The fight for legalizing recreational marijuana across the United States is undeniably a worthy one. Most experts agree that it is only a matter of time before the Federal Government first decriminalizes and then fully legalizes everyone’s favorite weed. Until then, we must rely on states to pass laws permitting recreational use of marijuana for those 21 years and older — but there is one state that might never take that step: Oklahoma.
One of the few dominantly conservative states in the South to pass medical marijuana regulations, Oklahoma is unique in its weed policies for a number of reasons. Here are a few exceptional qualities of Oklahoma’s current medical cannabis legislation, which will likely prevent it from ever obtaining its own adult-use laws.
Who Can Obtain Medical Weed
Most every state with medical marijuana laws boasts a strict list of conditions that qualify patients for access to medical weed. Often, these lists include exceedingly uncomfortable diseases and disorders, like cancer, wasting syndrome, multiple sclerosis, seizures or glaucoma — all of which lack a simple, straightforward treatment, let alone cure. For these sufferers, marijuana is permitted for masking the worst symptoms of ill-health and managing day-to-day well-being, and the list of conditions is meant to strictly limit access to marijuana to only the most serious cases.
Oklahoma has a similar list of qualifying conditions — but unlike in other states, Oklahoma gives doctors full discretion in determining what is best for their patients. As a result, even if a patient does not suffer from something like chronic pain, severe nausea, Crohn’s disease or HIV, doctors can recommend them for a medical marijuana license. This makes it much easier for the average adult to obtain a medical marijuana card, given they can convince their physician of their need — or else see a doctor known for being generous with weed recommendations.
How Much Medical Weed Costs
Another regulation common to states with legal medical marijuana is a bevy of fees associated with application, acquisition and maintenance of marijuana licenses. The costs associated with weed cards vary from place to place, but typically, the doctor’s visit, the card application and recurring renewals will cost patients several hundreds of dollars, even thousands over the lifetime of the card.
Again, Oklahoma marijuana laws vary in this regard. Though the cost of obtaining a doctor’s recommendation will depend on an individual’s doctor’s rates as well as their personal health insurance, the cost of an application is a flat $100, or just $20 for veterans as well as those on Soonercare or Medicare — easily the cheapest fee in the country. What’s more, many Oklahomans enjoy a full two years from the date of issue, and they can renew their card online for the same initial application fee.
Even after obtaining a medical marijuana card, Oklahoma users enjoy lower prices for cannabis products than medical and even recreational users in other states. These days, there is an Oklahoma medical dispensary on almost every block; the state has a notably liberal licensing policy for dispensaries, so there are more than 2,000 active dispensary business permits and only about 240,000 patients across the state. As a result, prices for weed are mercifully low: $10 grams, BOGO edibles and even free pre-rolls. The affordability of marijuana makes the drug more accessible to all Oklahomans.
Why Legalization Is Far-fetched
There are at least two initiatives to give Oklahoma legal, adult-use marijuana on the 2020 ballot, which proponents say will make the medical marijuana industry more legitimate and increase tax revenues for the state. Indeed, Oklahoma does need some extra income; the state is currently experiencing a billion-dollar budget shortfall that could leave several crucial state agencies and services without funding.
Even so, lawmakers aren’t optimistic about the power of recreational weed to reverse the deficit. The relaxed status of medical marijuana laws has all but guaranteed that most adults interested in using marijuana have already obtained a medical card and are contributing marijuana taxes to the state. Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt even said that the existing medical cannabis program “looks a lot like recreational.” Excitement for adult-use initiatives is high, but the likelihood of a positive outcome is low.
Oklahoma’s medical marijuana market is remarkably progressive, giving much more power to doctors, dispensaries and potheads than any other medical program across the U.S. Fortunately, that means that many Oklahomans already have access to the drug they know and love; unfortunately, that means recreational regulations, as seen in states like Colorado, Washington and California, aren’t likely to come any time soon.
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