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A Budding Topic

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August 1, 2018

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

As of this writing, the medical marijuana issue is about as clear as mud. On July 26, SQ 788 went into effect. Applications for consumption, growth, distribution and research are available online. The Oklahoma State Board of Health passed emergency rules with questionable last-minute amendments. Two lawsuits were filed challenging the amendments. The Attorney General advised the Board to rescind them, and the Board had a special meeting on July 27, at which it voted to amend its emergency rules as recommended by the AG. 

Signatures are being collected on two petitions for SQs 796 and 797, which if passed would amend Oklahoma’s Constitution to allow marijuana to be classified as an herbal drug regulated by the Oklahoma Cannabis Commission (796) and would allow anyone 21 years or older to legally possess, use, grow, process and sell marijuana and derivatives within rules set by the Oklahoma Cannabis Commission (797). If enough signatures are collected by August 1, and if they can be verified in time, it is possible these two state questions will be on the ballot for the November election. 

It’s being reported that cities, agencies, businesses and the like are awaiting word from their legal counsel on the best ways to proceed. Interestingly, the Oklahoma Bar Association in mid-July released its own warning to attorneys:  

OBA Urges Caution Regarding SQ788 – Following the passage of SQ788, a working group was established and President Hays called a meeting to request the Rules of Professional Conduct Committee prepare language regarding the issue to be presented to the House of Delegates. Until then, the OBA urges caution due to ramifications of state and federal law being in conflict. OBA members may also want to contact their malpractice insurance carrier if they intend to give advice or provide representation on issues relating to the passage of the state question. 

That’s where we stand. Today. The state will likely face a pretty big learning curve in the coming months. With respect to schools, we’ll be anxiously awaiting guidance on how to follow the new law while simultaneously ensuring the safety and security of students and staff. I’ll be watching this closely as it unfolds and will keep you informed of the latest developments as they pertain to your operations.

About the Author

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Terri Thomas

Director of Legal Services

Terri Thomas serves as Director of Legal Services for OPSRC.  Ms. Thomas is an attorney practicing exclusively in the area of Oklahoma school law, with a primary focus on rural and smaller school districts. Prior to OPSRC, she served as legal counsel for the Organization of Rural Oklahoma Schools (OROS) from 1999 to 2015 and represents many school districts throughout all parts of the state.

It’s no accident that Terri wound up practicing school law.  She grew up in the school business. Terri’s father, the late Howard Thomas, was a school superintendent for 25 years in several Oklahoma school districts, including Pauls Valley—Terri’s hometown—and Ardmore. After graduating from Pauls Valley High School, Terri received her bachelor’s degree in Finance from Southern Methodist University and her Juris Doctor from the University of Oklahoma College of Law.

She and her husband, Norman Thompson, and their 8-year old daughter, Mary, reside in Oklahoma City.

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