The eyes of the nation have been on Oklahoma this week after voters came out in record numbers in support of State Question 788 legalizing medical cannabis.
In separate statements Tuesday just after the unofficial results declared the question had passed, State Senator Frank Simpson and House Representative for District 48 Pat Ownbey said the state’s Department of Health would need help forming the initial regulations and that a special session was needed to add stipulations for qualifying medical conditions and prescribing restrictions.
Friday afternoon, however, Governor Fallin’s office released a statement saying there would be no special session.
“After conferring with House and Senate leaders, we believe a special legislative session is not necessary to implement provisions of State Question 788,” Fallin said. “The Oklahoma State Department of Health has developed emergency rules that will ensure the health and safety of Oklahomans as well as being fair and balanced for the marijuana industry.” Fallin said OSDH has been working with other agencies to build the regulatory framework needed to implement medical cannabis in the state.
“The voters have spoken, and it’s important that our state has a responsible system up and running to meet the deadlines outlined in State Question 788. If circumstances develop that adjustments to the Health Department rules are necessary, those can be addressed when lawmakers return in regular session early next year,” Fallin said.
State Senator Frank Simpson said that after meeting with his colleagues in Oklahoma City Friday, he felt Fallin’s decision is the right one.
“My feeling on the special session was that we shouldn’t go in without a plan in place,” Simpson said. “I don’t think myself or my colleagues are prepared for a protracted ordeal just to kick the can down the road. My opinion hasn’t changed. I still think we might have to make some changes, but the Department of Health will set the emergency rules.” Simpson said he looks back at last year’s special session in which the Legislature spent nine weeks at the Capitol and “accomplished nothing,” and felt this issue would bring a repeat of that.
Ownbey said he believes the decision to adopt emergency rules rather than call a special session is the best option. “That’s why this procedure was put in place — so that the governor doesn’t need to call a special session every time agency rules need to be adopted between sessions.”
OSDH Public Information Officer Jamie Dukes said those emergency rules, and other information regarding the current status of medical cannabis in the state is available at Omma.ok.gov.
“The text of SQ788 provides that all medical marijuana products and licensees are to be regulated by the Health Department,” Dukes said.  “The OSDH is developing regulations to provide for adequate public health and consumer protections for patient license holders.  The SQ also provides for a Food Standards Board to develop standards related to edibles.”
No licenses can be obtained until after the July 26 regulatory deadline.
Public comments on the proposed regulatory measures may be submitted online at https://bit.ly/2IGsDN1 or in writing by July 3.