Editor’s note: This is the first of a three-part series detailing US Sen. James Lankford’s Tuesday community town hall at the Ardmore Convention Center.

After being asked about Oklahoma’s new medical marijuana law and the future of marijuana from the federal perspective, Sen. James Lankford (R-5th Dist.)  provided his views on the issue and outlined what both the state and the nation will face.
“The FDA and the National Institute for Health have, for over a decade, spent hundreds of millions of dollars studying marijuana, and they found zero medical gains from smoking marijuana,” Lankford said. He then said that many medications can be produced from the Tetrahydrocannabinol and Cannabidiol found in the plant.
“The challenge we’re having is twofold. One is ‘should the plant be available to use in medicine?’ Sure it should, just like every other plant should. But you’ve got to find a way to manage it,” Lankford said.
“Should we allow the smoking of a ‘medicine?’ No,” Lankford said. “The American Cancer Society, the American Heart Society, the Hospital Society, the National institute of Health, the FDA – everyone looking at it says smoking is bad for a person’s health long-term.”
“The biggest problem we’re having on the federal side is twofold,” Lankford said. “One is, ‘do you enforce it?’” He pointed out that even though the state has legalized marijuana, federal law enforcement could still potentially step in and make arrests. In fact, this could be especially true due to the amount of plants the new law allows individuals to grow for personal use.
“You’re allowed to have 12 plants. Holy cow. Drug dealers don’t have 12 plants. That’s a lot of marijuana that is allowed in that state question. That is more marijuana allowed for ‘medicinal’ purposes than what Colorado allows for recreational purposes.”
The second major problem facing the federal government concerns banks because they cannot knowingly conduct business with someone they know is committing a federal crime. Because of this, he said that there were currently only around 400 banks in the nation that would do business with marijuana organizations.
In order to make things easier for the banking industry, he said that there was currently a push on the federal level to relax these laws for states that have legalized marijuana. This would come in the form of bank examiners and regulators not coming in with a “heavy hand” because the banks would be dealing with a business that is legal in their state.
“I would suspect this will be the next issue that will be addressed on the federal level,” Lankford said. He then said that he was not in support of this issue.
“I look at it long-term for the health of our families,” Lankford said. “I have a very hard time saying, ‘you know what will make Oklahoma better? Honestly, our schools will be better, our workplaces will be better and our roads will be safer if only more people smoked more marijuana.’’
While he himself is not in favor of the new law, he said that ultimately everything will work itself out.
“It’s going to be noisy working this out as a state and it’s going to be months,” Lankford said. “But it’s the state legislature that is going to have to figure this out. It is law as a state.”
When asked a followup question about the possibility of the federal government coming in to make arrests, Lankford said, “I don’t know that they will step in. So far the administration has not pushed to do that enforcement. Jeff Sessions has made some comments about it because he is not happy about the proliferation of marijuana around the country.”