Debate over medical marijuana laws in Oklahoma is still smoldering.
A trio of Rogers County legislators, Sen. Marty Quinn, Rep. Mark Lepak, and Rep. Tom Gann, shared their views on a state-wide hot topic- medical marijuana during the Claremore Chamber of Commerce’s Eggs and Issues Legislative Breakfast.
“Senator Quinn, you’ve been called everything from a devil to an angel on your bill to increase license fees for medical marijuana. Where is that standing?” came the first question from the audience.
Quinn explained that there are numerous pieces of legislation regarding medical marijuana and that ultimately, he had to lay his over as it was called up by the governor and he did not want to ask a colleague to carry a controversial bill.
“When state legislation passed to legalize medical marijuana, that was the term they knew they had to use to get it passed. If they had said recreational, it wouldn’t have passed,” Quinn said. “But it’s not medical marijuana. It’s one of the most liberal marijuana bills out there even more so than Colorado. There’s going to be consequences. The access to marijuana and the access goes far beyond anything associated with medical reasons.”
Quinn added, “When you can, as of yesterday, have a doctor stand on the capitol steps and issue prescriptions. There’s going to be consequences due to the magnitude of access. It affects our law enforcement, it affects mental health. The recreational use long term it is known it is going to have an affect on you because you’re altering the normal way people function and think.”
He said the access to medical marijuana is going to cost the state’s bottom line.
“It’s going to cost us in our health and human services, in public safety, in mental health. It’s just like cigarettes. If you want to smoke a cigarette, that’s your business, it’s legal to do that. But we know the vast amount of people if they smoke enough of that long term, it’s going to cost them. And if they don’t have medical insurance, we pick up the tab for that,” Quinn said.
“There are so many now that a lot of them are going to fail. They’re going to close. Compared to the number of people with medical marijuana needs, we have hundreds of growers and dispensaries,” an audience member said.
Rep. Mark Lepak pointed out that Rogers County has a higher number of dispensaries and growers per capita than the state average.
“At some point people will figure out how to test for THC presence in the blood and when that happens there’s going to be a whole lot of activity around putting that in statute to provide clarity on what constitutes as intoxicated,” Lepak said.
“Do we need to be worried about recreational being passed soon” came another question from the audience.
“It’s so loose now that it’s recreational in essence as it is now,” said Rep. Tom Gann.
Gann said, “Some of these operations are woefully undercapitalized with that they really resemble a third-world tent city and within those tents they’re growing marijuana. But to get to these tents you have to climb over low-mags and conduits..because they’re out in the county there are no codes and they’re taking full advantage of that. It looks like a nightmare. They’re undercapitalized to the point they can’t have a safe operation for someone they might employ. It reflects on the variability of their product.”
He continued, “The people that are involved and major proponents of the medical marijuana issues are a little taken aback and ashamed of the caricature of what it has become in society. We have all these things that do not reflect the medical intensity it should be given. There is a legitimate use, but it’s gone way off into a cartoonish type scale.”
“In some form or fashion the taxpayer is going to pick up the tab…it will flow to some government agency to help clean that up,” Quinn said.