Oklahoma initiative makes all marijuana possession offenses misdemeanors!
Last update: November 17, 2016
On November 8, 58% of Oklahoma voters supported State Question 780, which will make all marijuana possession offenses misdemeanors. It will take effect July 1, 2017. Under current law, second and subsequent offenses are felonies, as is possession that meets other criteria —such as taking place on or near university campuses.
The legislature had already taken a step toward reducing penalties by passing HB 2479 earlier in 2016. That bill, which took effect November 1, reduced the penalty for a second marijuana possession offense by half, to a mandatory minimum sentence of one year, a maximum sentence of five years, and a fine of up to $5,000.
Oklahoma still has further to go, as the penalty for first-time marijuana possession will remain up to one year of incarceration and a fine of up to $1,000. Removing possible jail time for marijuana possession altogether, as 21 states have already done, 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 expands Oklahoma’s high-CBD law
Also in 2016, Oklahoma expanded its limited protection for patients who use low-THC, high-CBD cannabis oil for certain medical conditions, which was initially passed in 2015. HB 2835 allows adults to use low-THC cannabis oil (minors were already covered by existing law) and added “spasticity due to multiple sclerosis or due to paraplegia, intractable nausea and vomiting, and appetite stimulation with chronic wasting diseases” to the list of qualifying conditions, in addition to severe epilepsy. Click here for our summary of the law.
Unfortunately, the law still has no way for patients to gain access to cannabis oil in Oklahoma. 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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