House set to hear proposed regulations on medical marijuana

Posted on Friday, February 22nd, 2019 By The Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Legislation that would provide a framework for the regulation of medical marijuana in Oklahoma could be heard on the House floor as soon as next week.

The proposal sets guidelines for medical marijuana testing, tax collections, seed-to-sale product tracking, packaging and employment restrictions. The legislation also would create a regular fund for the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority and give the state Health Department the authority to handle monitoring and disciplinary actions.

The regulatory framework could cost nearly $10 million in its first year of implementation.

The House Rules Committee approved the bipartisan measure Thursday.

House Majority Leader Jon Echols said there's a collective push to quickly establish regulation because medical marijuana use and sales are occurring across the state.

"The goal was to create a framework," he said to members of the Rules Committee. "We didn't want to get too deep into the details."

The bill also seeks to modify standards for the Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing Act to require a urine, saliva or blood sample for use in drug tests.

Other provisions in the measure include generating a registry of medical cannabis patients and caregivers, but those records would be deemed confidential. Patient and caregiver applications, in addition to dispensary records containing patient information and financial documents for business applicants, would be exempt from disclosure under the Oklahoma Open Records Act.

Echols acknowledged that he has been "publicly not pleased" with previous actions of the Oklahoma State Department of Health's board before the Legislature went into regular session. The board passed controversial emergency rules in July that, among other limitations, outlawed sales of smokable marijuana products. It later repealed those restrictions and approved a pared-down set of emergency guidelines that did not detail procedures for product testing.

Echols added he hopes the language was broad enough to prevent any micromanaging of the medical marijuana industry. Much of the language for the proposal came from guidelines in other states that decriminalized marijuana usage, be it medical or recreational, he said.

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