Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin on Wednesday signed into place strict emergency rules for medical marijuana that pot advocates say are intentionally aimed at delaying the voter-approved use of medicinal cannabis.
The term-limited Republican governor signed the rules just one day after her appointees on the state's Board of Health adopted them at an emergency meeting after last-minute changes to ban the sale of smokable marijuana and require a pharmacist at every pot dispensary.
Those late additions to the rules infuriated longtime medical marijuana advocates who helped get the measure on the ballot last month, when nearly 57 percent of Oklahoma voters approved it . Her quick signature also came just as medical pot advocates were rallying supporters to urge her to reject them.
"People are completely angry. They voted for (State Question) 788 and now you have the health department and our governor pull these shenanigans?" said Isaac Caviness, president of Green the Vote, a marijuana advocacy group that pushed for the passage of the state question. "It's a slap in the face to all activists. It's a slap in the face to all Oklahomans who voted on 788."
Groups that opposed legalizing medical marijuana, including ones that represent doctors, pharmacists, hospitals and chambers of commerce, earlier this week called for new restrictions on the industry, including a ban on the sale of smokable pot and the pharmacist restriction. The board approved the two provisions against the advice of the health department's general counsel, who said the rules likely were beyond the agency's legal authority. Marijuana advocates say they're considering legal action against the board.
In a statement on Wednesday, Fallin said she thinks the rules were the best way to quickly set up a regulatory framework for medical marijuana.
"I know some citizens are not pleased with these actions," Fallin said. "But I encourage everyone to approach this effort in a constructive fashion in order to honor the will of the citizens of Oklahoma who want a balanced and responsible medical marijuana law."