Saturday in Central Park, about a hundred people gathered to participate in a community discussion about State Question 788.
The state question, which would legalize medical marijuana in Oklahoma, is set to be voted on by the people on June 26.
The discussion panel, made up of chiropractors, veterans, and the co-author of the bill, discussed the medical need and benefits, economic considerations, and the potential for the industry to create jobs and revenue.
Local chiropractor Dr. Lee Grant, who spoke on the panel, said he hadn’t considered medical marijuana until he began to see patients who were using it to self-medicate regardless of the legality because it worked.
“When I began to see the benefits in their lives, I started doing my own research,” Grant said.
His research, he said, pointed to what could be a solution to the current opioid crisis griping the nation. Medical marijuana provides a natural alternative for the deadly, addictive drugs people are using just to be able to live day to day, Grant said.
Panelists also took questions from the audience. One question pondered that since CBD is currently legal in Oklahoma, why is medical marijuana necessary?
Grant said the issue is that while CBD is helpful for many patients, there are some who benefit from the  natural synergy of CBD along with THC. Because of this, along with the myriad strains of cannabis available, prescribers are able to tailor prescriptive plans when both are available. Dr. Brent Holland, also a local chiropractor, said seizure medication was a good example of why both CBD and THC are needed. Untreated or undertreated epilepsy greatly diminishes quality of life for those who suffer from the condition. Those who are medicated are plagued with side effects from the strong pharmaceuticals used to treat seizure disorders. THC and CBD, though they are different molecules, work synergistically to offer tremendous benefits, Holland said.
“We can do a lot better,” Holland said. “Mothers of children who were having 10-300 epileptic seizures a day are the biggest supporters, because their kids are off 10-15 medications by taking one supplement.”
Holland said people are moving to states where marijuana is legalized because it is the best thing they can do for their families.
Ardmore resident and Army veteran Chris McMahan said he feels a wide array of things will be solved with the legalization of medical marijuana. Medical benefits for pain management and other issues aside, McMahan said the financial benefit to the state could be enormous.
“Nevada has already made $25 million in 8 months,” McMahan said. “Colorado has a surplus and is now able to have a slush fund in case something goes wrong in their state.”
McMahan said Oklahoma could potentially pull itself out of the current economic hole it is in and fund things like teacher pay raises. McMahan said the potential benefit to the state from the cannabis industry doesn’t stop there.
“This is the only market I’ve found that expects equality and accepts nothing less,” McMahan said adding that 70 percent of corporate cannabis is women-owned, something no other industry can boast.
Frank Grove, one of the question’s co-authors, said the legalization of medical marijuana is something polls have shown is wanted by Oklahomans.
“The only reason this is on the ballot is because of the sacrifices made by Oklahomans to get it there,” Grove said. “It doesn’t take a huge movement of people, just a small organized group.”
Grove said cannabis offers potential to dramatically affect the state’s economy and job market.
The potential to help the state’s veterans with the question passing was also discussed by the panel. Todd Larkin, a veteran with PTSD and the owner of Pure Wellness CBD in Ardmore, said he was tired of seeing other veterans incarcerated for trying to treat issues so they can live their lives. Legalization, he said, could help them in a lot of ways. Larkin said there were times his symptoms were so severe he would “run off,” and lock himself in the bedroom or bathroom.
“It’s crazy what will set me off,” Larkin said. He said the sewer backed up recently, and while he was working on fixing the problem, he “just snapped.” Larkin said the thing people seem to be worried about is CBD products triggering a positive drug test, though the products carried at his store do not contain THC, the compound those tests are looking for. The World Health Organization did a year-long study that concluded daily CBD use at a rate of 1000 mg could trigger a false positive result, an amount Larkin said is well above the therapeutic range. Larkin himself takes 80 mg daily.
With the vote quickly approaching, many people are looking to register to vote or amend their registration. Volunteers from the Carter County Democratic Party were on hand with voter registration forms and forms to request mail-in ballots. More than 20 people registered to vote for the first time at the event yesterday. Carter County residents who are interested in registering to vote or changing their registration should contact the Carter County Election Board for registration information.