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Bill to legalize and regulate medical marijuana dies in Senate amid concerns over upcoming state question

Bill to legalize and regulate medical marijuana dies in Senate amid concerns over upcoming state question

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OKLAHOMA CITY — Concerns about preempting a vote of the people contributed Monday to the death of a bill that would have legalized and regulated medical marijuana.

But Sen. Ervin Yen, R-Oklahoma City, could bring his bill back to life after he held it on a procedural motion to reconsider the vote.

The measure, Senate Bill 1120, got 21 yes votes but needed 25 to secure approval.

Oklahoma voters will go to the polls June 26 to determine the fate of State Question 788, which would legalize medical marijuana.

SQ 788 made it to a statewide ballot after supporters successfully gathered enough signatures for a statutory change to allow medical marijuana under a doctor’s care.

Yen said the state question as written legalizes recreational marijuana. He said his bill would have legalized and regulated medical marijuana.

Yen’s bill would not allow for the use of medical marijuana to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety or depression.

It would have allowed usage for neuropathic pain, persistent muscle spasms due to multiple sclerosis or paraplegia, intractable nausea or vomiting due to chemotherapy or loss of weight or appetite due to cancer or HIV/AIDS.

Yen said the bill had a lot of moving parts and ramifications. He said he was willing to work with other lawmakers who had concerns.

“If we legalize it, it needs to be done the right way,” Yen said.

Under questioning from Sen. Anastasia Pittman, D-Oklahoma City, Yen said his bill could limit the scope of SQ 788, should voters approve it.

Senate Minority Leader John Sparks, D-Norman, said it was bad policy to preempt the public’s vote on a state question.

If the measure passes and there are problems with it, the Legislature can come back after the fact and make changes, Sparks said.

He said if the measure passed and then the state question passed, it could create confusion.

Sen. Kevin Matthews, D-Tulsa, said that he believes medical marijuana should be approved, but it needs to be done by a vote of the people.

Sen. Ron Sharp, R-Shawnee, said it would be premature for lawmakers to pass the measure when a state question put on the ballot by voters was pending.

Barbara Hoberock


Twitter: @bhoberock


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