Oklahoma inches forward by reducing mandatory minimums
Last update: May 2, 2016
In April 2016, Gov. Mary Fallin signed HB 2479, which will cut the sentences for second marijuana possession convictions in half. It will take effect November 1, 2016. Click here to thank her for supporting this bill.
Unfortunately, even after the new law takes effect, Oklahoma’s penalties for possession will be among the nation’s harshest. The penalty for a first offense is up to one year of incarceration and a fine of up to $1,000. The penalty for a second offense will be reduced to a mandatory minimum sentence of one year, a maximum sentence of five years, and a fine of up to $5,000.
This is a step toward sensible policies, but Oklahoma has much further to go. Removing criminal penalties for marijuana possession will allow police to focus on solving violent and property crime. In addition, enforcement of these laws is racially biased. According to this report by the ACLU, African Americans in Oklahoma are 2.9 times more likely than whites to be arrested for possession of marijuana, even though blacks and whites consume marijuana at similar rates. Please take a moment to ask your legislators to stop wasting tax dollars and ruining lives by incarcerating people for low level marijuana offenses.
Legislature considers expanding Oklahoma’s high-CBD law
This session, Oklahoma is considering an expansion of its limited protection for patients who use low-THC, high-CBD cannabis oil for certain medical conditions, which was passed in 2015. Different versions of HB 2835 have passed both houses of the legislature, which will have to come to a compromise. The current law allows access to CBD cannabis oil, but only for minors and only if they have severe forms of epilepsy or other serious seizure conditions (click here for our summary of the law). Both versions of HB 2835 would amend the law to allow adults to use the oil and both would add several qualifying conditions; the House version has a longer list of conditions, including chronic pain.
Unfortunately, neither version of HB 2835 would create a regulated mechanism for the production of state-compliant cannabis oil for patients to use. And, as with all current laws providing access to high-CBD products, the law is very limited and leaves behind most patients who could benefit from whole-plant medical marijuana in various forms, such as people with cancer, intractable pain, and other serious illnesses. For a broader look at CBD laws and where they fall short, take a look at our analysis available here. Please take a moment to ask your senator and representative to support a comprehensive medical marijuana law that would help seriously ill patients gain access to a medicine that is safer than many prescription medications without becoming criminals.
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