One week out: Medical marijuana debate sparks up

FILE - This Sept. 15, 2015 file photo shows marijuana plants a few weeks away from harvest in a medical marijuana cultivation center in Albion, Ill. A survey of U.S. cancer doctors released on Thursday, May 10, 2018, finds nearly half say they've recently recommended medical marijuana to patients, although most say they don't know enough about medicinal use. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)

We're now one week away from the 2018 primary election and the medical marijuana debate is heating up.

Those opposed to State Question 788 rolled out nearly half a million dollars in advertisements last week in hopes of combating the measure. Since those ads hit the airwaves, there's been plenty of commentary surrounding some of the claims made.

One ad claims, "State Question 788 is not medical.” This is perhaps the biggest argument against the proposed legislation.

"What we're saying is this is not medical,” said Dr. Larry Bookman, the president-elect of the Oklahoma State Medical Association and a spokesman for SQ 788 is Not Medical. “Yes, it requires a physician to give approval; a physician cannot write a prescription for marijuana."

As a result, he claims anyone can get medical marijuana without a specific medical condition. This, he says, effectively allows for recreational marijuana use. State Question 788 supporters call the claim absurd.

"The only difference between a medical and recreational program is the requirement that a physician recommends this product to their patients,” said Bud Scott, executive director of New Health Solutions Oklahoma.

Scott has spent the last week sorting fact from fiction. In their ads, the opposing party asserts licensed users would be allowed to light up anywhere at any time. However, the state's statutes on smoking in public places define "smoking" as a lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe or lighted smoking device. Critics of the measure argue these rules only pertain to tobacco.

"It only addresses cigarettes,” Bookman said.

Scott says that, as well as claims that those as young as 18 could acquire up to 12 pounds of weed in a year's time, is simply untrue.

“First of all, I want to know what kind of plants they're growing because that's way more than most people can actually produce from a plant,” he said.

Secondly, Scott says any university has the ability to restrict what is conducted within their facilities. Bookman disagrees, saying the same rules that apply to employers will most likely apply to universities.

"How can we pass a state question; make it a law, when we just don't know the answers to some of this,” Bookman asked.

But like many of our neighboring states, supporters of SQ 788 say those answers won't be hard to come by once it's passed.

"These are usually really loose proposals that are set forth and then implemented by statute and regulation, so all the claims being asserted by the no campaign are just patently false.”

Those opposed to SQ 788 also argue that any person defined as a doctor under state law can recommend medical marijuana. They say that includes chiropractors, podiatrists, even veterinarians.

However, looking through Oklahoma Statutes Section 725.2 of Title 59, FOX 25 found no mention of veterinarians among those classifications.

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