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Oklahoma Pain Patients Optimistic About Medical Marijuana Vote

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Oklahoma voters are heading to the polls this summer to determine the legality of medical marijuana in our state. This comes as Attorney General Jeff Sessions rolled back protections for states with legal cannabis.

If Oklahomans vote yes on June 26, we would become the 30th state with legal medical marijuana, and those with established industries are currently fighting back against the Attorney General's move in order to keep their industries in place.

“We tried to pick and choose the very best from all of the other states’ laws to give patients in Oklahoma the most protections and to give a very business-friendly environment for the state,” says William Jones, an organizer for the Vote Yes on 788 campaign.

If approved, patients over the age of 18 would need a recommendation from a board-certified physician to get a state license to use cannabis. Children under 18 would need two separate physicians' approvals. The law would also outline regulations for the farming and manufacture of the products.

All excess sales tax money would be specially earmarked.

“The tax revenue goes to fund schools and drug rehabilitation programs at a time when we’ve seen historic cuts to state agencies,” Jones says.

The Vote Yes on 788 campaign has had different names since the group started in 2013, but the goal has always been the same. They aim to give the option of cannabis treatment to patients who need it.

Michael Lee takes 27 pills a day for pain associated with four back surgeries, sciatica and a neurological disorder. He now uses doctor-prescribed CBD oil to rub into his aching joints.

“I try whatever they throw at me,” he says, “and now I’m to the point where I’m ready to move to try other things, and I shouldn’t have to move my family.”

He has tried the less-potent recreational marijuana Colorado has to offer, and just one dose of it helped ease his pain, so he is optimistic about the prospect of trying medical grade.

Lee encourages skeptical voters to weigh the pros and cons for themselves. He says, “Knowing that I could move and possibly get off half this medication, or at least a portion of it, by putting some cannabis butter on toast twice a day, it’s extremely frustrating.”

To read the 788 initiative in full, click here.

The Department of Justice's rollback of cannabis protections could lead to more legal questions.

We heard from former US attorney for Oklahoma Sandy Coats who said businesses that sell recreational marijuana in other states could be targeted.

"I think it could possibly lead to federal prosecution of marijuana dispensaries in states that have legalized recreational use," Coats said,
"I don't think it's going to have an effect much, if any, on medical use of marijuana like what's on the ballot here."

Coats said he's not aware of medical marijuana being voted down in any other states where it has been on the ballot.

He said there's a good chance voters in Oklahoma will approve it.

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