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Why I Am Voting NO on State Question 788 – ‘Medical’ Marijuana

In just two weeks, Oklahoma voters will go to the polls for the primary elections and, in a rare instance, a State Question. This will be the first time since 2005 that a date other than a general election has been set for an initiative. State Question 788, if passed, would legalize marijuana in Oklahoma for medical purposes.

The ballot title is as follows:

This measure amends the Oklahoma State Statutes. A yes vote legalizes the licensed use, sale, and growth of marijuana in Oklahoma for medicinal purposes. A license is required for use and possession of marijuana for medicinal purposes and must be approved by an Oklahoma Board Certified Physician.

The State Department of Health will issue medical marijuana licenses if the application is eighteen years of older an Oklahoma resident. A special exception will be granted to an applicant under the age of eighteen, however these applications must be signed by two physicians and a parent or legal guardian.

The Department will also issue seller, grower, packaging, transportation, research and caregiver licenses. Individual and retail businesses must meet minimal requirements to be licensed to sell marijuana to licensees.

The punishment for unlicensed possession of permitted amounts of marijuana for individuals who can state a medical condition is a fine not exceeding four hundred dollars. Fees and zoning restrictions are established. A seven percent state tax is imposed on medical marijuana sales.

Shall the proposal be approved?

For the proposal – YES
Against the proposal – NO

A “YES” vote is a vote in favor of this measure. A “NO” vote is a vote against this measure.

The entire text of the proposed measure can be found here. It outlines the requirements and restrictions for possessing marijuana, growing it, processing it and transporting it.

I’m sure the part that will get the most people to vote Yes is the section on possession.

A person in possession of a state issued medical marijuana license shall be able to:

1. Consume marijuana legally;
2. Legally possess up to three (3) ounces of marijuana on their person;
3. Legally possess six (6) mature marijuana plants;
4. Legally possess six (6) seedling plants;
5. Legally possess one (1) ounce of concentrated marijuana;
6. Legally possess seventy-two (72) ounces of edible marijuana; and
7. Legally possess up to eight (8) ounces of marijuana in their residence.

Things to note are that people who want to legally possess marijuana will first have to obtain the signature of an Oklahoma Board-certified physician. Basically, if you can convince any quack doctor to sign the marijuana application for whatever reason, you’ll be a legal, dope-smoking pothead.

The most telling sentence is this one: “There are no qualifying conditions.”

I think it’s important to note just how much marijuana is being talked about here. For those, like me, who are unfamiliar with marijuana amounts, here is some interesting info. – “A typical marijuana joint weighs a gram, so three ounces per person is about 85 joints,” OBN Director John Scully said. ” In their house, they’ll be able to possess eight ounces that’s about 226 joints. Six mature marijuana plants produce about a pound of marijuana, so the grand total is estimated at over 3,000 joints.”

That is a lot of marijuana. And the proposed law specifically states that counties and cities will be allowed to enact guidelines allowing possession of even more than the state allows.

I’ve read all the arguments for why medical marijuana should be legalized and none of it is convincing. Even calling it ‘medical marijuana’ is misleading, since there are no qualifying conditions, no required doctor’s prescription and no required follow-up by a physician. Basically, you can get a two-year medical marijuana license for a hangnail.

The truth is this is just a devious way of legalizing recreational marijuana. Anyone who claims otherwise is being dishonest.

Supporters of ‘medical marijuana’ are quick to trot out a few folks who claim their medical conditions have actually been helped by smoking pot or their symptoms have lessened. I don’t doubt the sincerity of those people and while I sympathize with their plights, the detriments to what is tantamount to legalizing recreational marijuana would be too devastating to Oklahoma for me to support it.

Law enforcement officials in our state have already said they expect impaired driving arrests to increase if marijuana is legalized. Looking at the marijuana-related traffic fatality statistics from Colorado is looking at Oklahoma’s future

Denver Post – The number of drivers involved in fatal crashes in Colorado who tested positive for marijuana has risen sharply each year since 2013, more than doubling in that time, federal and state data show. A Denver Post analysis of the data and coroner reports provides the most comprehensive look yet into whether roads in the state have become more dangerous since the drug’s legalization.

Increasingly potent levels of marijuana were found in positive-testing drivers who died in crashes in Front Range counties, according to coroner data since 2013 compiled by The Denver Post. Nearly a dozen in 2016 had levels five times the amount allowed by law, and one was at 22 times the limit. Levels were not as elevated in earlier years.

Last year, all of the drivers who survived and tested positive for marijuana use had the drug at levels that indicated use within a few hours of being tested, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation, which compiles information for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System.

Among The Post’s other findings:

  • Marijuana is figuring into more fatal crashes overall. In 2013, drivers tested positive for the drug in about 10 percent of all fatal crashes. By 2016, it was 20 percent.
  • More drivers are testing positive for marijuana and nothing else. Of the drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2014 who tested positive for cannabinoids, more than 52 percent had no alcohol in their system. By 2016, it had grown to 69 percent.
  • The average age of drivers in deadly crashes in 2015 who tested positive for marijuana was nearly 35, with a quarter of them over 40.
  • In 2016, of the 115 drivers in fatal wrecks who tested positive for marijuana use, 71 were found to have Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, in their blood, indicating use within hours, according to state data. Of those, 63 percent were over 5 nanograms per milliliter, the state’s limit for driving.

And while I’m on the subject of impairment, here’s another part of the proposed law that should raise eyebrows.

No person holding a medical marijuana license may unduly be withheld from holding a state-issued license by virtue of their being a medical marijuana license holder. This would include such things as a concealed carry permit.

Seriously? Do we really want a bunch of potheads running around with as many as 85 joints while carrying guns at the same time? That’s probably the stupidest part of this proposed law.

Considering the opioid crisis now occurring in Oklahoma, is it really a prudent decision to add marijuana to the mix? Talk about pouring gasoline onto the fire.

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter has filed a lawsuit against four pharmaceutical companies, claiming they knowingly marketed their drugs as safe for managing chronic pain while downplaying the risks of developing a dependency on opioids and overstating the effectiveness of the drugs.

Fox 25 – “We believe these companies are culpable for the tragic, heartbreaking number of Oklahomans who have become addicted or have died because of the opioid crisis in the state,” Hunter said.

Dr. Kevin E. Taubman, past president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association also mentioned Oklahoma’s opioid problem in his state opposition to State Question 788.

Capitol Beat OK – Dr. Taubman pointed to the Sooner State’s “crippling Opioid epidemic,” warning that “adding broad access to marijuana without any specific legitimate medical guidance only creates greater opportunities for abuse and addiction in this vulnerable population.”

Marijuana use has even been linked to opioid addiction.

Some argue that marijuana can be a gateway to more detrimental substances, such as cocaine and prescription pills. According to a 2015 study conducted by researchers at Yale School of Medicine, using marijuana makes a person two and a half times more likely to abuse prescription opioids.

And there is the danger of becoming addicted to marijuana itself. An estimated 3 million people suffer from marijuana use disorder. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defines that as significant impairment of functioning and distress, as well as symptoms such as cravings and difficulty stopping, resulting from using marijuana for at least a year.

“You can’t stop and you give up other things to keep using,” Professor Christian Hopfer says. “People go to work stoned and are stoned with their loved ones. Performance in life and on the job both get negatively impacted.”

The opioid crisis didn’t just begin overnight. As Rachel Lu points out in her article, society is slow to realize there is a problem. Meanwhile, thousands suffer and thousands die.

The Week – Here’s another lesson from the opioids. When indigent populations are suffering, the rest of the nation can be awfully slow to notice. Many thousands had died of opioid overdose before America started to consider that it had a bit of a drug problem. That’s not going to happen with pot, which is far less likely to kill you. But if it took thousands of corpses to persuade authorities that OxyContin was a problem, how much havoc would marijuana have to wreak on indigent citizens and families before anyone would bother to reconsider the wisdom of legalization? How many kids will have to be removed from their families because their addicted parents can’t quite get around to feeding them or taking them to school? How many young adults will watch social lives and career plans disappear into the vortex of addiction, while their parents watch despondently?

I’ve read claims by marijuana proponents that everything is fine in Colorado after the state legalized marijuana in 2012, but nothing could be further from the truth. Colorado has become a cesspool of crime, dope-smoking transients, marijuana-related traffic deaths, poison control calls, emergency room visits, black-market marijuana, illegal pot grows and numerous marijuana regulators indicted for corruption. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has even said he won’t rule out banning marijuana again because of the effect it is having on his state.

Colorado Springs Gazette – Positioned in front of a pile of burlap sacks containing seized pot plants and sophisticated growing equipment, Sheriff Bill Elder, Colorado Springs Police Chief Pete Carey, 4th Judicial District Attorney Dan May and Drug Enforcement Administration Southeast Division Supervisor Tim Scott agreed that marijuana “is one of the biggest public safety challenges our region is facing today.”

Elder made similar claims a day earlier when announcing sheriff’s deputies have served more warrants so far this year – 64 – on illegal pot grows than all other crimes combined. Fifteen of those warrants were served in May, he said, and 11 in the last week.

It’s not the legal marijuana industry the officials are referring to but rather the black market – criminals who try to use legalization to hide in plain sight while growing excessive amounts of weed, shipping products across state lines and raking in millions of dollars.

May said prosecutors have been “overwhelmed” by a 38 percent spike in felony filings in the state in the last three years, with a 41 percent increase in El Paso County. While being careful not to place sole blame on marijuana legalization, it does play a part, he said.

“(The black market) is much greater than it ever was before we legalized marijuana,” May said.

In addition to the “incredible tempo” by which his deputies have been busting illegal grows, Elder said the impact of legalized marijuana is also evident in the increase in  population at the county jail, which hit a record high of 1,794 inmates last summer.

As a precursor to Elder’s jail overcrowding issue, Carey says marijuana has had the biggest impact on city crime: Sixty-nine percent of the city’s suspected impaired drivers test positive for marijuana; officers made 56 felony marijuana arrests last year; there were eight marijuana-motivated killings in 2016 and three in 2017.

Marijuana use and possession among youth have also increased in Colorado.

USA Today – In 2012, we were promised funds from marijuana taxes would benefit our communities, particularly schools. Dr. Harry Bull, the Superintendent of Cherry Creek Schools, one of the largest school districts in the state, said, “So far, the only thing that the legalization of marijuana has brought to our schools has been marijuana.”

According to the Colorado Department of Public Safety, arrests in Colorado of black and Latino youth for marijuana possession have increased 58% and 29% respectively after legalization. This means that Black and Latino youth are being arrested more for marijuana possession after it became legal.

Drug cartels are taking full advantage of Colorado marijuana laws, even setting up illegal grow houses in unsuspecting neighborhoods. A cartel member will rent a house in an upscale neighborhood, then the house is gutted and turned into an extensive grow operation. You can watch a news report about this here.

Mexican, Cuban and Colombian cartels have all been found in Colorado, hiding in plain sight among the legal growers. Their criminal activities have made Colorado a hot spot for cartel activity. You can read about this here, here, here, here and many other sites.

Along with the illegal marijuana, cartels have brought other drugs such as heroin to Colorado, human trafficking and money laundering.

Denver 7 News – The legalization of marijuana in the state of Colorado has not only been good for the local economy, but it has inadvertently helped fuel the business of Mexican drug cartels. “If you combine the legalization of marijuana and you combine that there are no regulations for the legalization of marijuana outside Colorado, it becomes an attractive criminal enterprises,” said Jorge Duque with the Colorado Department of Law.

Duque said cartels are now trading drugs like heroin for marijuana, and the trade has since opened the door to drug and human trafficking.

“We have lots of victims. People are victimized whether they are being forced into prostitution, whether they are being kidnapped or just becoming addicts to illegal drug,” said Duque. And with that, Duque argued, comes money laundering. He said Cartels are often disguising their money through legally purchasing marijuana or buying houses and growing marijuana in it.

With all that is known about the absolutely devastating effect marijuana has had on Colorado, do we really want that here in Oklahoma? I would crawl to the polling place on my knees to vote NO on State Question 788. Its passage will bring nothing but death and destruction to our state. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

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