On Thursday afternoon the City of Ardmore and the Ardmore Chamber of Commerce cohosted a Lunch and Learn to inform citizens about the new laws and regulations concerning alcohol sales and medical marijuana. Attorneys David Davis and Margaret Love both made presentations concerning the new laws. Both made a point to inform attendees that the rules concerning both alcohol and cannabis are likely to undergo changes.
“I do anticipate that there will be substantial evidence to change the current statutes during this upcoming legislation session,” Love said. She then pointed out that the laws currently on the books are based on the “emergency rules” put in place by the state department of health and there are only a few ways the emergency rules can change.
“One way is with new emergency rules,” Love said. A second way to replace the emergency rules would be with permanent rules. “However, that is a 32-step process so there will not be any permanent rules within the foreseeable future. Spring would be the very earliest we could see anything permanent in place.”
Love said the permanent rules will need to be in place by next September when the current emergency rules cease to exist.
Love went on to point out that a committee is in place to work on creating new rules but they have major conflicting issues to deal with. One of these issues is federal law.
“Under federal law all marijuana is illegal, period,” Love said. “There is no debate. That also means it cannot be transported into your state. Under the commerce laws you cannot purchase marijuana in State X and transport it into Oklahoma.”
Love said federal laws will likely prevent medical marijuana from being available for purchase in the state of Oklahoma until the middle of November.
“You can’t just buy it in Colorado as a full plant, move it into Oklahoma, and plant it into the soil here,” Love said. “It will take eight to 10 weeks for a seedling to grow into a full plant that can then be harvested. Once it’s harvested, it’s going to have to be processed. Once it’s processed, it’s going to have to be labeled. Then once it’s labeled, it will have to be transported to dispensaries.”
Love also addressed potential Issues employers will face once the medical marijuana law is in effect.
“Any of you in the transportation business that have employees who have to have commercial drivers licenses, they cannot use marijuana,” Love said. “The law mandates that you test for marijuana.”
While the testing should not pose a problem for the transportation industry, it will pose a problem for other businesses due to the duration marijuana remains in an individual’s system, which can cause a person to test positive for the substance long after they have actively used the drug. Love said that traditional urinalysis and blood tests can show marijuana usage beyond a two week window.
Other industries will not be able to discriminate against people who are using a legal substance while off the clock. If they come to work clearly intoxicated, however, that’s another story.
Ultimately, she said, the state will overcome all of these issues, and a firm system will eventually be put into a place.
“The sky is not going to fall,” Love said. “It might tilt a little but it’s definitely not falling any time soon.”