When I hear the term "big pharma," what do I think? Capitalist monsters that control healthcare.
While this is an extreme opinion, it is one I get to have. At this point in my life, I have worked in two hospitals and have worked two different positions. Both involving patient care, one much more than the other, I have seen both how insurance and big pharma work to control healthcare. To be completely honest, I am sick of it.
While I love my current job, love the people in it and LOVE working surgery, working on the floor is a completely different experience. This is where I saw just how much control both insurance companies and big pharma have. No company or entity should have so much power.
This is why Oklahoma State Question 788, the Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative, is so important.
For those of us in the state of Oklahoma, June 26, 2018, is the day. The day in which we as citizens get to make state history and who knows, maybe actually make a headline for something good.
I keep referring to this question by the ballot name because that is what is going to be the bolded part when checking yes or no. Of course, there is going to be a brief description of what the bill is, but making an educated decision a brief description will not cut it.
In this article, I will be discussing the main aspects of the bill and will provide a link at the end so people can read the bill itself.
Of course, with this bill, there are age limits from selling to distribution. All licenses will be granted by the Oklahoma State Department of health. To apply for a license, the applicant must be 18 years of age and Oklahoma resident. There is an exception for underage applicants with the license application being signed by two physicians and the parent or guardian.
Any person who does not hold a license but can prove medical condition, therefore, making it a necessity will be fined no more than $400.00. This is huge in terms of punishment in the relation of possession.
Currently, in the state of Oklahoma, you can be fined up to $1,000 and face imprisonment for up to a year. It is currently classified as a misdemeanor but can be easily turned into a felony. Any possession of marijuana within 1000 feet of a public or private school, university, public park or in the presence of a child 12 years of age or younger and the misdemeanor turns into a felony.
This is one of the many, many reasons why 788 needs to pass. The charge goes away with a license, and even without a license, the user will be fined a misdemeanor versus facing a possible criminal charge.
How much one can have varies by source. For example, someone can possess 3 ounces on them, 72 ounces in edibles and 8 ounces in their residence. These are three of the possible six ways of possession this bill outlines.
Having six different possible ways of possession, this makes it very accommodating to retail shops such as CBD+ and also for consumers/ license holders. There are many people I know who can't handle smoke in general. Having the option of edibles for this person is a very great and accommodating option for them to receive the medical benefits of marijuana.
Now, there is some opposition to this bill. In this case, it is lead by Senator James Lankford.
"This state question is being sold to Oklahomans as a compassionate medical marijuana bill by outside groups that actually want access to recreational marijuana," Lankford said to KFOR States.
The reason why I bring up Senator Lankford is two-fold. The first being he is an acting senator in this state and in this community, and the second is as one who denies treatment to citizens and thinks so low of our citizens and community, he should not hold power. Remember people election season is coming up.
Back to the bill. Some things to know about the licenses that I have already partially hit on: they will last for two years and have a $100 application fee. This fee changes if the applicant is on Medicaid, Medicare or Soonercare and drops to $20. The application must be signed by a physician when being sent in.
A department will be created in the state health department to go through the applications, thus creating jobs, which now days are scarce to come by.
Speaking of jobs, it is important to discuss the distributor side. The distributor side is a lot less user-friendly, which will make possession a little more difficult but still obtainable. To obtain a license to dispense one must be a resident of Oklahoma, be roughly 25 years old and be registered to conduct business in the state of Oklahoma. This is a very small view of the dispensary license side, and as I have said, I will provide the link to the bill at the end of this article.
Another big question about this bill is where is all the tax revenue going to go? Is any of it going to be contributing to the community?
For all sales, there will be a state 7 percent sales tax. This will be collected at the point of sale. The gross tax will primarily be used to fund the regulatory office.
I agree this is gross, but I promise there is more to it. Seventy-five percent goes towards education in our state.
Considering we have practically no budget for education in the first place, this extreme increase is a very needed change. I grew up in a failing education system, and our students deserve better. Another 25 percent will go towards drug and alcohol rehabilitation services.
One of the biggest problems this state has is being apart of the opioid crisis. I can not tell you how many cases I have personally seen of prescription drug abuse. This is for legal reasons, but it is ridiculous how our state government has failed its citizens to get to this point.
Our state legislator should have stepped in and stepped in and said enough is enough. Doctors should have pushed for this much sooner instead of pushing pills (Veterans Affairs is an example). Some doctors have done this, but they have also lobbied for years to make medical marijuana legal.
On June 26, we as citizens have the power to make a leap in healthcare, one our government has failed to make, one our doctors have been wanting to make for years, and one that is a long time coming.
Whether you vote yes or no, it is important to be informed.
For more information on the bill, click here.