The Oklahoma Legislature failed to override a veto of a comprehensive reform bill that would have aided patients and marijuana businesses, said Tulsa medical marijuana attorney Stephen Cale. However, the Legislature could go into a special session to address the measure.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt vetoed HB 3228 on May 21st. In a formal letter to the Speaker of the House and House of Representatives, Stitt stated:
“House Bill 3228 is a lengthy bill that alters Oklahoma’s medical marijuana program. The language in the bill makes substantial policy changes to the medical marijuana program that were not fully scrutinized through normal legislative procedures before the bill was received by my office in the middle of the night Saturday. While there is much room for improvement in the way our state’s program operates, this bill does not address those items in a way I can support.”
The bill passed with large support in the House and Senate – enough to override a veto. However, the Legislature recessed Friday, May 22nd, after overriding several other vetoed bills, but ignoring an override vote on HB 3228. The Legislature officially adjourned, or ended, its session on May 29.
Special Session Possible
The Oklahoma Constitution allows for a special session, said Tulsa medical marijuana attorney Stephen Cale. A special session happens with a call by the Governor, or by a written call signed by two-thirds of the members of both the House and the Senate.
The Movement For An Override Vote
Soon after the Legislature recessed, organizations such as Green Country NORML and OK4U Approved rallied citizens to push legislators to return to the Capitol to vote on a veto override. While it appeared that there were enough votes for an override, legislators failed to return to the Capitol to vote on it.
Highlights of HB 3228
Here are some highlights of what HB 3228 would have done if it had become law:
Allowed dispensaries to deliver to licensed patients and caregivers. Delivery would be permitted if the patient or caregiver’s residence is within a 10-mile radius of the delivering dispensary. But if there was no dispensary within the radius, the dispensary could still deliver if it was in the same county as the patient or caregiver’s private residence, said Tulsa medical marijuana attorney Stephen Cale.
Allowed growers and dispensaries to package and sale pre-rolls. However, the pre-rolls could not contain marijuana concentrates or derivatives. Growers would sell pre-rolls at the wholesale level without a tax imposed. Currently, only processors can make pre-rolls.
Allowed growers and processors to remediate marijuana or marijuana product that didn’t pass initial required testing.
90-Day Patient License For Out-Of-State Residents
Under current law, non-Oklahoma residents can get a temporary marijuana patient card (lasting 30 days) if they have a medical marijuana patient license from another state. That person can also renew the temporary license.
However, HB 3228 would have lengthened the duration of the license and broadened eligibility requirements. Under the bill, the non-resident would not have to have a licensed medical marijuana patient. Additionally, the temporary license would last for 90 days and could be renewed.
Patient and Caregiver Privacy
HB 3228 would have ensured that the OMMA (State Health Department) would seal patient and caregiver records and information. The OMMA would not be able to share information and records to any state agency or political subdivision (such as a county or municipality) without a warrant.
Eliminated Certificate Of Compliance For License Renewal In Most Instances
Currently, businesses applying for a new commercial marijuana license, or renewing one, must submit a Certificate of Compliance with the license application. This certificate shows that the business complies with zoning, fire, building, and other codes, or that such codes don’t apply at the business site. Getting the Certificate of Compliance can be a lengthy process in some cities and towns. Most counties, however, don’t have such codes, and rapidly endorse the certificate.
Under HB 3228, no additional Certificate of Compliance would be required for renewing licenses unless:
- A change of use or occupancy occurred; or
- There was any change concerning the facility or location that would legally require additional inspection, licensure, or permitting by the state or municipal government.
Grandfather The 1,000 Feet From A School Law For Dispensaries.
With the passage of State Question 788 in 2018, dispensaries could not be located within 1,000 feet of a public or private school entrance. The law did not define public or private school.
However, in 2019, the Oklahoma Legislature passed the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana and Patient Protection Act. That Act defined public and private school, including “preschool” within the definition.
Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter issued an opinion in September 2019 concerning the effect of the new law on dispensaries. He stated that the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) could revoke or decline to renew a dispensary license that was located within 1,000 feet of a preschool entrance– even if the dispensary was at its current location before the new 2019 law. Attorney General Hunter said in his opinion that the state Legislature did not “grandfather,” or exempt, dispensaries that existed before the new law went into effect.
HB 3228 would have allowed existing dispensaries to remain at their current location if a public or private school later located within 1,000 feet of the dispensary.
Tulsa medical marijuana attorney Stephen Cale is a Legal Committee member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). He has been serving people with legal needs for more than 21 years.
He also serves on the board of Green Country NORML, a Tulsa chapter of NORML.