Oklahoma Seeks $4 Million From Feds To Fight Cannabis

EDMOND—State officials are collaborating with the office of U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe to secure $4 million in federal funds to battle illegal marijuana cultivation operations.

A press conference was held on Wednesday, July 7 at the Oklahoma Sheriffs’ Association office in Edmond to discuss the issue and secure additional funding.

According to Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control Director Donnie Anderson, the funds will establish a particular unit within the state’s Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control.

One of the things that the organization noticed during their travel around the locality is a growing concern “about illegal grow operations and all the criminal activity associated with it,” stated Inhofe’s chief of staff, Luke Holland.

According to Holland, it appears that Chinese, Mexican, Russian, and other organizations are increasingly behind illegal marijuana operations that involve other illicit activities such as human trafficking, money laundering, and weapons trafficking.

Additionally, Holland inferred that Inhofe will request the funds through the Department of Justice.

Anderson stated that Oklahoma has a legal medical marijuana industry that is expanding. In 2018, nearly 57 percent of voters approved State Question 788, which legalized medical marijuana.

However, bad actors such as national and transnational drug organizations have already infiltrated the state, according to Anderson.

“They are here in Oklahoma. They aren’t going anywhere anytime soon,” the director added.

Rep. John Pfeiffer, R-Orlando, said it’s a problem he hears about daily in his district.

According to Holland, if the funding is approved, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control could receive it in the first quarter of next year.

10 Things Oklahoma’s Medical Cannabis Laws Prohibit

Medical Cannabis Prescriptions

Federal law identifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 narcotic, making it illegal. Therefore, it cannot be prescribed and can only be “recommended.”

A Ninth Circuit Court ruling protects doctors who recommend cannabis-based treatments to patients who may benefit from them. Still, federal law prohibits doctors from “aiding and abetting” patients in obtaining cannabis. This means that doctors and patients cannot discuss dosages, strains, or specific cannabis products for treating a particular ailment. Instead, doctors fill out a form indicating that they have examined the risks of cannabis use with the patient and believe the benefits outweigh the risks.

Some patients who see doctors for pain and receive opioids may not use medical cannabis as a licensed patient.

Cannabis Use and Intoxication at Work

State Question 788 specifies that an employer may not discriminate against an employee solely because they are a medical cannabis patient. This means that simply holding a license is not grounds for dismissal or discipline. However, that employer can still write and enforce rules restricting employee use of cannabis, just like any other controlled substance. No patients would be protected if they arrived at work high, used cannabis on the job, or attempted to perform their duties while impaired.

Transporting Cannabis Across State Lines

Patients who obtain medical cannabis cards in other states can use their cards to purchase medical products from dispensaries in those states, but they may not bring the products back to Oklahoma. A patient also may not travel to a state where recreational cannabis is legal cannabis and bring any legally-obtained products back to Oklahoma. Patients who intend to cultivate cannabis in their own homes would also be barred from getting seeds from another state.

Dispensaries May Not Issue Doctor’s Recommendations

An alteration to state law made it illegal to place a physician inside a medical cannabis dispensary to sign up customers as patients.

No Sampling While Shopping

Because the use of any cannabis product is prohibited inside a licensed medical cannabis business, patients should not expect to receive samples like those provided by some CBD shops.

Cannabis Smoking is Prohibited Where Tobacco Smoking is Prohibited

The law treats cannabis in the same way that tobacco does when it comes to public consumption, falling under the Smoking in Public Places and Indoor Workplaces Act.

Cannabis May Not be Gifted

No provision in the law allows patients to transfer ownership of cannabis. Patients are not permitted to donate or sell cannabis, even to other patients. Licensed patients can grow cannabis on their own residential property or, with written permission, on rented property. They cannot grow outside unless the plants are surrounded by a 6-foot fence that is locked. If the yield of the plants at harvest exceeds the legal amount that a patient may have in their possession, the excess must be destroyed. Cannabis processing is permitted, but butane extractions are not.

Cannabis-Impaired Driving is Illegal

While patients can legally possess a limited amount of cannabis, an officer will decide whether or not the patient is impaired if they are driving. Even for patients who use medical cannabis, driving while intoxicated is still illegal.

Cannabis Possession has Limits

Even if a patient has less than 3 ounces of cannabis on their person, 8 ounces at home, 1 ounce of concentrated marijuana, and 72 ounces of edible marijuana, they are not in violation of the law. Violating those limits could lead to their license being revoked and they could face criminal charges such as intent to distribute or trafficking.

Patients Cannot Smoke Cannabis Where it is Prohibited

Even if a patient has a medical cannabis card, they do not have a legal right to smoke medical cannabis if they live in residence where smoking is prohibited.

Original article: https://tulsaworld.com/news/state-and-regional/govt-and-politics/oklahoma-seeks-4-million-from-feds-to-combat-illegal-marijuana-growers/article_2bf6baaa-df51-11eb-862d-8b9799f66399.html