Did you know that on June 26, Oklahomans will vote on allowing the use and distribution of a schedule one narcotic, as identified by the Federal Controlled Substances Act in the United States and the Drug Enforcement Act?
I refer to marijuana. To be specific, a ballot initiative (State Question 788) is coming before Oklahoma voters that “legalizes the licensed use, sale and growth of marijuana in Oklahoma for medicinal purposes.”
According to reports, Oklahoma is one of nine states in the U.S. that will vote on some marijuana legalization measure this year. Southern Baptist scholar and thinker Albert Mohler recently said, “2018 is going to be a pivotal year on the question of marijuana” in America, and he is right.
Knowing this, how should Christians in Oklahoma think about the issue? There are several important questions and concerns about this proposal, which include:
Is this unnecessary?
Some people do not realize that Oklahoma already has passed one form of legalized medical marijuana. In 2015, the Oklahoma Legislature passed—and the governor signed—a bill establishing a limited-basis pilot program for medical marijuana in the form of a “cannabis oil” liquid extract. The oil was limited to certain types of patients who qualified, such as those who suffer with childhood-onset epilepsy. Since that time, the law has been expanded. In this sense, as Oklahomans consider medical marijuana, they should know we already have it in a much more regulated form than what’s being proposed here.
Is ‘medical marijuana’ unproven?
The cannabis oil law was to be pursued more carefully and as part of medical study, while the implementation of SQ 788 seems messier and broad-based. Former Oklahoma Attorney General E. Scott Pruitt’s administration said at the time the ballot measure was advancing, “The proposition itself states there are no qualifying medical conditions, and while a physician has to sign-off on an application for a license, nothing in the law provides a physician will monitor usage.” In other words, the proposal is written is such a way that it’s not precise and, perhaps intentionally, broad.
Got a headache? Try marijuana for that! Feeling stressed? Try marijuana. Have trouble sleeping? Try this! These scenarios may sound far-fetched, but they are not, based on what we have learned from other states.
Meanwhile, medical marijuana has not been approved by the FDA; indeed current federal laws prohibit doctors from prescribing marijuana. This ballot vote, then, allows for medical doctors to license people to grow and retail medical marijuana, putting them in unproven territory and placing them at odds with the FDA and Federal government.
Is this unwise?
If Oklahoma voters approve this measure, the Sooner State could become a hotspot for the production and sale of marijuana, as we have seen from states like California (which legalized so-called medical marijuana in 1996). What we also have learned from other states is that medical marijuana becomes a public-policy “gateway drug” to demands for marijuana decriminalization and recreational use laws.
When the issue comes to a vote, people do not always hear these kinds of details and drawbacks. That is why issues like these are best left to our duly-elected legislators.
At a time when the jury is still out on our 2015 cannabis law; at a time when legitimate medical research behind medical marijuana is hard to come by; at a time when Oklahomans facing illness and suffering have other legitimate options, Oklahomans do not need take a chance on a practice that is unnecessary, unproven and unwise.
Come June 26, I plan to just say “no” to this proposal.