Oklahoma inches forward by reducing mandatory minimums
Last update: August 16, 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.
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 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 will allow adults to use low-THC cannabis oil (minors were already covered by existing law) and will add “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 new law, which will take effect on November 1.
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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