The bill officially passed on June 26, 2018, with over a 10 percent margin. This was a massive win for alternative medicine and those in the fight against the rapid opioid abuse problem not only in our state but across the nation. In a report from the Oklahoma Commision on opioid abuse, over "the last 15 years, drug overdose deaths in the state have increased by 91 percent and continue to rise."
The victory was very short lived. Within hours, Governor Mary Fallin released a statement that some may call a bit biased. It practically ignored the statement James Lankford made before the bill was even voted on. At this point, I knew even if this bill passed, there was going to be an uphill struggle, but I do not think I expected it to go this far.
The bill itself is very specific. I wrote about the benefits and implementation of this bill in an article I wrote about a month ago entitled "Everything You Should Know Before You Vote On Oklahoma State Question 788, The Medical Marijuana Initiative." If the bill were to pass, in other words, everything would be fairly set in stone, including the quantities, the licensing process, and rules about selling, distributing and having it.
This bill did not leave anything for imagination. It is one of the reasons my dad--conservative as he is--actually agreed with the bill. That being said the people voted. Roughly 891,654 people voted for or against this bill. Of the 891,654 ballots, 57 percent were for the bill, meaning 508,242.78 of the turnout wanted this bill in its entirety and were ready for a change in health care. This is not what we got.
Earlier this month, the Oklahoma State Health Department called an emergency meeting to discuss the bill in all of its glory. This was not the problem. The problem was the meeting itself, specifically the outcome of it. Mary Fallin along with the Oklahoma Board of Health signed a bill banning the use of smokables.
This completely goes against the bill over the state question the citizens voted on over a month ago. From this, there has been an outpour of rage from the citizens who voted yes on this. A rally is set up for July 26, 2018 in response to Governor Fallon's ruling. This is just one of the many happening across the state. Another protest rally happened earlier this week. It is very obvious the citizens are not happy with what the board has done nor should they be. This is a direct violation of what the people want.
Governor Fallin does not care about that, nor does she have any intention of backing down.
Protestors have no sign of back down, either. They will continue to go to the Capitol until justice is restored. Democracy is supposed to be the will of the people, and this is very obviously not the will.
In response to the protests, there has been another meeting set for August 1st to find a compromise. The meeting is not only in response to the protests popping up around the state but the multiple lawsuits since the OK Health Board ruling. Even the American Civil Liberties Union is considering suing the board. This has caused shifts throughout the board, making the special meeting necessary.
This meeting will be to reconsider the rules placed by the board. The governor has established a bicameral legislator plus two groups to help with this meeting. This will allow for the best, nonbiased basis when revising these rules and limitations.
With state question 797, it sounds much more liberal than it actually is. This bill sounds more liberal by nature, and to a point, it is. Not by the extremes most people actually think, though. It is treated very similarly to how alcohol is treated. While that is true, the whole idea of recreation Mary Jane still might not fly in a very conservative state like Oklahoma. There continue to be more signatures to get it on the ballot every time, but that is not necessarily a clear indicator of how people might vote. In a local poll, roughly 62 percent of people said they would vote no if the state question got on the ballot. With 796, it is wanting to make marijuana as an herbal plant, therefore declassifying it as a Class 1 substance and in turn adding it to the language of the Oklahoma Constitution.
With the passing of SQ788, the medical world in the state of Oklahoma is changing, and I can't wait to see what more comes to it.