Should Oklahomans Vote Yes for SQ 788?

Ever since announcing my new focus on cannabis, I’ve tried to educate people on the medical benefits of the plant and the myths surrounding it. Medical marijuana is a much debated topic in some communities. Some of the information is accurate and other information is nothing more than lies. Since Oklahoma is about to vote on legalizing medical cannabis with SQ 788 this June, I feel it’s prudent to address some concerns.

The Concerns of SQ 788

I’ve engaged in many conversations online and in person about Proposition 788. While there are some valid concerns about the bill, most of the negative opinions are based on fear mongering.

SQ 788 makes qualifying conditions too easy.

It’s true this bill would allow for a wide range of qualifying conditions, though Oklahoma wouldn’t be the most liberal in the nation as this article states. The most liberal is California. Even if that statement were true, is that necessarily a bad thing?

Consider this. Opiates or prescription drugs killed approximately 65,000 people in 2016. That’s more than all the servicemen killed in the Vietnam War. Have you ever read the side effects sheets that come with your medicine? I have and it’s terrifying!

Physicians have carelessly been writing prescriptions for medications that are killing people for over a decade. Almost every time I visit my doctor for a problem, I get some sort of prescription with no questions asked. If I can qualify so easily for narcotics from the pharmacy, does a more liberal law for cannabis really put me in danger?

We deserve the right to choose our preferred medication.

No one knows our body and our health better than we do. While I believe physicians have valuable experience to lean on, we should have the right to choose cannabis over other harmful drugs. Giving medical cannabis access to only a very select few conditions is asinine.

Medical marijuana can treat epilepsy, anxiety, depression, severe migraines, PTSD, TBI, diabetes, menstrual cramps, and sexual dysfunction. Strict qualifying conditions force people to use prescription drugs (at over-inflated prices) that severely damage their bodies.

And in case you were wondering. Cannabis deaths since record keeping started remains at zero.

SQ 788 allows card holders to possess too much cannabis.

Some Oklahomans feel as though the amount of medical marijuana a person can have access to is excessive. If you look at other state’s laws with legal cannabis, the proposed amount with SQ788 is standard if not less than average.

Most people who consume medical marijuana are not abusing it.

The idea of a cannabis user firing up hundreds of joints per day or walking around with that amount is totally absurd. The media is trying to scare people into thinking your communities are going to be overrun by pot smokers growing truck loads of weed. The reality is people with medical cards don’t use that much medicine or push the limits on what they are allowed.

If we’re truly concerned about excessiveness, perhaps we should turn our attention to booze or fast food instead. Alcohol and heart disease are two of the biggest reasons for death in our country, yet there are no regulations on that. Maybe there should be.

SQ 788 will increase drug use amongst teens.

It’s believed that legalizing medical marijuana will increase its use among teenagers. However, data and research does not support this theory. In fact, Colorado research has shown cannabis use with teenagers has decreased since legalization. Kids are more prone to using prescription drugs found in their parents medicine cabinet.

Considering medical cannabis regulations keep anyone from the age of 18 from entering a dispensary or having a medical card without parental consent AND a physician’s recommendation, we should rest knowing teenagers won’t have easy access as some might think.

SQ 788 will bring more homeless people to Oklahoma.

While homelessness is a valid concern, there is no factual data to support this claim. We have to be careful about basing our assumptions on reports that are inaccurate.

Most of the studies conducted have taken place on the west coast where homelessness has traditionally been higher. Perhaps the correlation is based on other factors such as moderate climate, access to homeless programs, or population size.

Given that anyone possessing medical cannabis must see a physician, pay $200 for a medical card, and have funding for the medicine, it’s very unlikely we will see hordes of homeless people roaming the streets like in The Walking Dead.

SQ 788 will cause problems for law enforcement.

I cannot refute this concern. It would be foolish to say approving SQ 788 won’t have an impact for law enforcement personnel. Legalizing cannabis in any state brings complexities and challenges.

My research has shown a wide range of statistics and anecdotal evidence on this matter. Some articles you read will be largely based on a person’s stance on cannabis. Many law enforcement officials are against legalization and others are for it. So where do we go from here?

I believe decriminalizing and legalizing will bring problems with it, but these problems will pale in comparison to the benefits.

For example, over 8 million people were arrested for marijuana between 2001 and 2010. 88% of these arrests were for simple possession. The cost to states for these enforcements is over 3 BILLION dollars. More people have been locked up for cannabis than for murder, rape, aggravated assault and robbery – combined! Think about that.

Legalizing cannabis would decrease the amount of money and resources wasted on needless arrests. Income from sales taxes would fund law agencies who often have underpaid and overworked police officers. Releasing people arrested for possession would reduce prison costs.

There are going to be problems but we need to look at this from the bigger picture.

Vote Yes 788

Should We Vote Yes for SQ 788?

I would ask you how can Oklahomans not vote yes?

The evidence that medical cannabis helps people with a variety of illnesses or health issues is irrefutable. The research that shows how legalization has benefited people and communities is undeniable. The reality that people are being incarcerated or arrested for a plant that is proven to be safe is undisputed.

Let go of the cannabis stigma and look at the factual evidence. We know the government concluded in 1973 that cannabis was not harmful, addictive, or deadly. The reality is more people die from alcoholism, over eating, prescription drugs, or texting while driving than from marijuana use. So why are we still fighting this?

YES! Get out and vote YES for State Question 788.

Not because I said so or because Happy Joe supports medical cannabis for veterans (or anyone really). Get out there and vote in favor of SQ 788 because of the facts and evidence that strongly support the benefits changing the law will bring.

 

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James Dalman

James Dalman is founder and CEO of Happy Joe, a medical cannabis education and products company. Happy Joe helps veterans achieve mental wellness and happiness in a safe, holistic way. James served in the U.S. Army Reserves and National Guard as an 11 Bravo Infantryman for six years. He’s passionate about changing the negative stories surrounding the military community and investing in veteran owned businesses.