Proponents for State Question 788 and medical cannabis “called” the vote a win around 9:35 p.m. Tuesday with the majority of precincts apparently supporting the issue statewide.
More than 56 percent of the vote was in favor of the proposal, with just over 43 percent voting against the measure.
Current State Representative,  District 48,  Pat Ownbey said, “ This is what 55 percent of Oklahoma voted for — we have to make it work.”
Frank Grove, chair for the Vote Yes on 788 PAC and president of Drug Policy Reform Network of Oklahoma, said those for the measure celebrated Tuesday night. “The next step will be following up with our allies in the Legislature.” Grove said his groups and others have discussed possible frameworks for moving forward for regulations with the State Department of Health.
Ownbey and State Senator Frank Simpson both agreed that a special session to shore up the SQ788 statutes would be scheduled soon. “Governor Fallin will likely call a meeting with the leadership of the House and Senate in the morning,” Simpson said.
Both legislators also cited the conditions at the Department of Health as primary concerns for their regulatory capabilities. “They can do a good job with it,” Ownbey said. “They are, however, still looking for leadership.”
Ownbey said he and his colleagues are also concerned about the tight timeframe for the regulatory framework to be put in place. “It took 18 months to put the new alcohol regulations in place, and marijuana has never been legal in Oklahoma before. Simpson said he felt there would be further conditions enforced in the final iterations of the statutes, including defining qualifying conditions and prescribing authority regulations.
“I don’t particularly like the statute as written,” Ownbey said. “I do think there is a place for medical marijuana and that we need to properly regulate it in a way we don’t have to change it several times.”
Local CBD store owner and medical cannabis advocate Todd Larkin said his first thought was that he would no longer have to worry about the legality of a medicine that has worked for him in the past. A veteran with PTSD, Larkin has been outspoken about the benefits of cannabis in managing his symptoms without the hefty side effects of pharmaceuticals. “Anyone consuming it now no longer has to worry about possibly going to jail because of a medicine,” Larkin said. “I’m not that type of person. I will be able to take the medicine that works and know what I’m getting.” Larkin said that his plan now is to continue to work with the Department of Health on regulatory structures. “I hope to connect with Simpson and Ownbey as well. We have so much information to share.”
Voter turnout for the question topped out at just over 850,000 total votes, accounting for approximately 41 percent of Oklahoma’s registered voters. “More voters tells you the voices are being heard,” Ownbey said.