What Does Oklahoma SB 1030 Mean for SQ 788 and Oklahoma Medical Marijuana?
Next month the Oklahoma legislation will meet and a Republican from Tuttle along with a few other lawmakers want changes to be made to SQ 788, which legalized Oklahoma medical marijuana in a statewide vote in June 2018. Sen. Lonnie Paxton was part of the bipartisan medical marijuana legislative working group tasked with recommending legislation regarding the state’s law.
Senate Bill 1030 would make some key changes to SQ 788. Paxton’s measure would include a few minor alterations and grammatical fixes along with a more significant change that in some eyes, cuts the very spirit of the law that Oklahoma voters support and approved.
“I think that’s a dangerous path on any initiative-led petition — to change what the people just said the year after they said it,” Echols said after reviewing Paxton’s bill. “Strong changes to 788, anything the people voted in, that’s not something I’m going to support.”
Here are the changes Paxton’s measure would do if it were to pass:
- SQ 788 ensures that patients who have not yet obtained their state license but are found to possess less than 1.5 ounces of marijuana would face only a misdemeanor charge along with a $400 fine. SB 1030 would instead institute those penalties only for licensed patients who are not in possession of their state-issued card at the time of the law enforcement action. Those who have no patient card would be subject to the same criminal law’s that were in effect prior to the passing of SQ 788.
- SQ 788 seals patients applications and ensures that no personal information is retained for the state’s digital records of patient licenses. SB 1030 would have the state retain all information from patient applications, but the records would remain sealed.
- SB 1030 would allow municipalities to enact ordinances banning patients from smoking of vaping anywhere that’s not a private residence.
- SQ 788 protects patients from being punished by employers, refused by schools and declined by landlords “unless failing to do so would imminently cause (the employer, school or landlord) to lose a monetary or licensing related benefit under federal law or regulations” SB 1030 would remove “imminently” instead saying “the potential” to lose money is enough to allow patient discrimination.
- SB 1030 would add a classification of employees not protected as patients if they are in a “safety-sensitive position.” Those employees could be fired upon a positive test for marijuana or a determination that the employee holds a patient card.
- SQ 788states that municipalities cannot change laws to prevent the opening of a retail marijuana establishment. SB 1030 would add language clarifying that clause but would establish that growers and processors may be prohibited by ordinance from opening within the limits of a city or county.
- SQ788 states that medical marijuana establishments may not be located within 1,000 feet of a school entrance. SB 1030 would have that changed to include only dispensaries in the distance requirement.
- SQ 788 established what’s been called a gross receipts tax of 7 percent on retail medical marijuana sales. SB 1030 would specifically call that a sales tax and a language to ensure that municipalities would be permitted to add additional local sales taxes on medical marijuana. (A lawsuit over the established tax structure is pending, as the Oklahoma Tax Commission is instructing retailers to only collect the 7 percent tax but also a 4.5 percent Oklahoma state sales tax.)
Echols said lawmakers will continue to look at legislation that would ensure the erosion of the black market for marijuana in Oklahoma.
“I think there are other things we can do that are consistent with the will of the people that will have a medical system compliant with what the people voted on but deal with issues like oversupply and targeting our black market,” he told the Tulsa World.
“We’ll do everything to help the legal market succeed and take steps to punish those who would try to continue on the black market.”
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