OKLAHOMA CITY (Mar. 1, 2017) – A Oklahoma bill would legalize medical marijuana for qualifying patients in the state, effectively nullifying the unconstitutional federal prohibition on the same.
Scheduled for introduction on Feb. 6 by Rep. Eric Proctor (D-Tulsa), House Bill 1877 (HB1877) would shield any qualifying medical marijuana patient from “arrest, prosecution or penalty in any manner or denied any right or privilege, including without limitation a civil penalty or disciplinary action by a business or occupational or professional licensing board or bureau” as long as they comply with the rules and regulations within the bill.
Patients would be able to qualify for medical marijuana if they suffered from one of the following ailments listed in HB1877:
"a. cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Tourette’s syndrome, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, posttraumatic stress disorder, severe arthritis, fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s disease, or the treatment of these conditions,
b. a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces one or more of the following: cachexia or wasting syndrome; peripheral neuropathy; intractable pain, which is pain that has not responded to ordinary medications, treatment or surgical measures for more than six (6) months; severe nausea; seizures, including without limitation those characteristic of epilepsy; or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including without limitation those characteristic of multiple sclerosis, and
c. any other medical condition or its treatment approved by the State Department of Health."
Medical marijuana patients would be allowed to designate a caregiver under HB1877, which would give another individual the legal authority to grow the plant on behalf of the qualifying patient. Dispensaries and cultivation facilities would be allowed for medical cannabis recipients, and they would be licensed by a new bureaucracy called the Medical Marijuana Commission.
Despite the federal prohibition on marijuana, measures such as HB1877 remain perfectly constitutional, and the feds can do little if anything to stop them in practice.
The federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970 prohibits all of this behavior. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate marijuana within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.
Legalization of medical marijuana in Oklahoma would remove a layer of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana, but federal prohibition will remain on the books.
FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By curtailing state prohibition, Oklahoma sweeps away much of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.
Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly annual budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution either. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.
A GROWING MOVEMENT
Oklahoma could join a growing number of states simply ignoring federal prohibition, and nullifying it in practice. Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska have already legalized recreational cannabis with California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts set to join them after ballot initiatives in favor of legalization were passed in those states earlier this month.
With more than two-dozen states allowing cannabis for medical use as well, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition any more.
“The lesson here is pretty straight forward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats,” policy analyst Michael Boldin said.
HB1877 will need to be formally introduced and pass its committee assignment before it can receive a full House vote. Stay in touch with our Tenther Blog and our Tracking and Action Center for the latest updates.