OSBI Investigating Bribery Allegations Related To Medical Marijuana Rules

Friday, July 20th 2018, 2:57 pm
By: News On 6

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is looking into allegations of bribery in connection to the Oklahoma pharmacy board director Chelsea Church.

The investigation is into text messages said to have been exchanged between Church and then-Oklahoma Board of Health attorney Julie Ezell. Church is said to have offered Ezell a job if the attorney could make sure a pharmacist would be required in dispensaries.

Ezell did not make that recommendation when the Board of Health voted to amend proposed marijuana rules at the last minute. She resigned from her position after she allegedly falsified threatening messages and sent them to herself.

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater requested the investigation.

7/20/2018 Related Story: Oklahoma Legislative Leaders Form 13-Member Marijuana Panel

Robin Durbin, attorney for Green the Vote, said they will be adding Ezell and Church to their lawsuit against the Department of Health.

“We believe that this is just a starting point of the corruption that is going on as it relates to the regulations in this implementation," Durbin said.

"And we believe, as we said in the very beginning in the filing of this lawsuit, that we believe members of the board of the Oklahoma Department of Health, may have been participating in similar schemes. And, there very well may be additional boards and additional politicians in this state that have participated. We plan on going after every one of them.” 

Durbin is calling for the Oklahoma County district judges to impanel a grand jury to investigate those allegations.

Some lawmakers say this is just a small part of a much bigger problem - a lack of oversight.

"You have an unelected, unaccountable board making decisions on policy, but they're not accountable to the Governor, they're not accountable to the House of Representatives or the Senate, so I believe reform, it's coming," said Representative Mike Sanders.

Green the Vote is meeting with the legislative working group next week to come up with a statutory framework that they believe implements State Question 788 in keeping with the will of the people.