Proposed medical pot rules detail doctor, patient parameters

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – A few things would be banned under proposed emergency rules to regulate medical marijuana in Oklahoma, including dispensaries near schools, indoor smoking in public places and psychoactive gummy bears.

Oklahomans voted to legalize medical marijuana Tuesday via State Question 788, which passed with about 57 percent support in an election with unusually high turnout.

Republican Gov. Mary Fallin said before the election the measure was written so broadly it would essentially allow recreational marijuana use, and that she planned to call the Legislature back to the state Capitol for a special session to tighten the rules.

But the term-limited Fallin said Friday she was not planning to call the session after all. She has conferred with House and Senate leaders and they decided emergency rules from the state health department will suffice in safely allowing medicinal use of cannabis.

The health department is circulating draft rules to regulate medical marijuana licenses for patients, caregivers and businesses. The Board of Health is scheduled to vote to finalize the emergency rules July 10. Fallin then would have 45 days either to approve or reject them.

Applications will be available July 26, and patients and businesses can start submitting their paperwork on Aug. 25, according to the health department.

The rules leave some questions unanswered. The health department appears to be trying to address that by calling for the commissioner of health to appoint a 12-person board to suggest changes or additional rules by December.

The proposed rules lay out guidance for doctors interested in recommending marijuana, patients who want to use it and businesses looking to grow, process or sell it:

PATIENTS

– Patients younger than 18 would need two physicians who don’t work together to sign off on a medical marijuana recommendation. Those young patients aren’t allowed to use forms of marijuana that is smoked or inhaled.

– Licenses would last for two years, though teen patients’ licenses could expire in less than two years if they turn 18 first. Patients can apply to renew licenses.

– Patients wouldn’t be allowed to smoke or vape medical marijuana in any place where smoking tobacco is illegal and would be forbidden from doing so in the presence of anyone under 18.

– Only homebound patients would be allowed to designate a caregiver to manage their medical marijuana. Any patient or caregiver who has marijuana left over after a license expires or a patient dies would have to surrender it to law enforcement or destroy it.

DOCTORS

– Physicians looking to recommend marijuana in Oklahoma would have to have a bona fide, ongoing relationship with patients seeking it. They would be required to counsel patients about risks including addiction, worsening of symptoms in people with psychotic disorders, cognitive damage in children and young adults and car crashes from driving under the influence. Doctors also are required to tell patients that marijuana can vary in its effects.

– Doctors would be forbidden from recommending medical marijuana to pregnant women. They also can’t recommend its use to their own close family members or employees.

– Physicians recommending medical marijuana would have to be licensed to prescribe controlled substances and have to complete marijuana-specific training.

DISPENSARIES

– The rules would forbid products that appeal to children, including marijuana-laced gummy bears or worms, lollipops, “fake cigarettes” and animal-shaped candies.

– Dispensaries would not be able to share space with any other type of business, or sell any non-marijuana products. Only licensed patients and caregivers would be permitted to enter.

– They would have to be at least 1,000 feet from school buildings and could only operate from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

OTHER BUSINESSES

– At least 75 percent of a marijuana business’ owners would have to be Oklahoma residents.

– Any facilities would have keep their marijuana behind locked doors and prevent the public from seeing or smelling it and would have to have an alarm system and video surveillance.

– The health department would inspect commercial operations annually and in response to complaints, and businesses would have to submit monthly reports.

– Each batch of medical marijuana products would have to be tested for chemical content, heavy metal contamination, pesticides, and several bacterial and fungal infections. Labs would have to apply to perform testing on medical marijuana.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Tom Bates, the health department’s interim commissioner, asked people interested in medical marijuana not to contact their county offices, which are stretched thin following layoffs this spring. Information is available on the health department website or by calling 405-271-2266.

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Information from: The Oklahoman, //www.newsok.com

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