Skip to Content
Everything Else

The Oklahoman thinks medical marijuana supporters “are wasting their time”

stoners in van

Last week, a group called “Green The Vote” announced they collected 70,266 signatures from registered voters for a petition drive to get legalization of medical marijuana on the Oklahoma ballot. The total was about 50,000 signatures shy of the 123,000 needed. It was the second time in the past few years that a medical marijuana petition came up a couple of grams short of a dime bag.

Not surprisingly, the behind-the-times, generally on the wrong side of history curmudgeons with The Oklahoman celebrated the news with a crabby editorial that claims Oklahomans simply don't support medical marijuana. The whole thing would make Nancy Reagan proud. Check it out!

Oklahoma evangelical Christians among supporters of medical marijuana

The topic of medical marijuana or decriminalizing marijuana hasn’t garnered much attention at the state Legislature.

Sen. Connie Johnson, D-Oklahoma City, has written legislation attempting to change Oklahoma’s marijuana laws, but the bills didn’t get too far at the Capitol.

Johnson recently requested an interim study on “the status of policies...

Oops! Sorry! That’s a 2013 blog post by The Oklahoman’s Jaclyn Cosgrove where she quotes a Sooner Poll that claims 70% of Oklahoma residents support some form of medical marijuana legalization. Forget I mentioned that story at all. It just uses objective poll results to show that Oklahomans from all walks of life think law-abiding adults should be able to use marijuana for medicinal purposes. Let’s get back to The Oklahoman’s editorial where they try to spin 70,266 signatures as a clear message that medical marijuana is not popular in Oklahoma.

Medical marijuana push clearly not popular in Oklahoma

FOR the second time in as many years, proponents have fallen short — far short — of gathering enough signatures to place a medical marijuana measure before Oklahoma voters. Backers say they will try again. But their repeated failure suggests this is an issue lacking meaningful support in Oklahoma, and that petition organizers are wasting their time...

Had the group come close to getting the required signatures, it might be understandable if members tried again. But they were around 50,000 short. And this isn't the first time a marijuana petition has fallen far below the threshold required for a public vote. In 2014, an initiative launched by Oklahomans for Health collected only about half the signatures needed. That group submitted 75,384 signatures but needed more than 155,216.

Well, you know what they say. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and…uh… then forgot about the movement completely and go home. Be complacent with archaic, moralistic laws that impede what should be your right to make your own personal decisions. You try twice, and if nothing happens, you just move on with your life. That’s the same attitude people in the civil rights and gay marriage movements had, right? It’s exactly how progress and change is made in this country.

The editorial continues...

Because fewer people voted in the 2014 gubernatorial race than in the 2010 race, medical marijuana proponents didn't have to collect nearly as many signatures in 2015 as in 2014. Yet they still fell well short.

There's an obvious explanation for that failure: Oklahomans don't support legalizing marijuana, even for supposed “medical” reasons.

Uhm, it's actually a bit more complex than that.

Unlike The Oklahoman Editorial Board, I've talked to a lot Moles who work in politics and government about this issue. From what I’ve gathered, the only way you can get a state question on the ballot in Oklahoma via the petition process is to raise $1 to $2-million dollars to develop a well-organized campaign to collect signatures, or make sure the law is either unconstitutional or discriminates against a minority group – that way, you can get churches and conservative think tanks to promote the petition and collect signatures. Since the medical marijuana movement doesn’t benefit the energy industry, and criminalization of marijuana disproportionately affects minorities groups, it falls short in both areas. As a result, the petition really didn’t have a chance.

Anyway, back to the Reefer Madness propaganda...

As we've noted before, medical marijuana initiatives have sought to stretch the definition of “medical” to such extremes that the term has little meaning.

The 2014 effort would have legalized the use of marijuana to treat 37 “qualifying conditions,” including headaches, anxiety, insomnia, premenstrual syndrome and painful periods. That same initiative would have allowed citizens to smoke marijuana to treat asthma. (Think about that for a minute.)

Yeah, the last thing we want adults to do is smoke a natural, non-lethal substance in the privacy of their own home to treat common medical conditions like headaches, anxiety, stress and insomnia. They need to use more dangerous and addictive FDA-approved substances like Valium, Xanax, or Oxycontin. You know, the legal medicines that benefit the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries. They are never used recreationally.

Also, I did "think about it for a minute." If someone thinks marijuana treats their asthma symptoms, then why don't we let them use marijuana!? It's their life! Let them live it. You can't overdose on weed. It won't kill you. And you don't have to smoke it. You can vape it, eat it and even pop it like a pill.

Despite claims to the contrary, the language of proposed medical marijuana measures has suggested the intent is to legalize recreational use under the guise of medical treatment, not to alleviate genuine suffering.

That still seems to be the case. Isaac Caviness, president of Green the Vote, said his group believes citizens should be allowed to grow greater numbers of marijuana plants for personal use than what the Oklahomans for Health petition would have legalized. Caviness says more plants are needed to extract the oils and concentrates required for certain medicinal benefits.

Wow. I actually agree with this. Medical marijuana will essentially legalize "recreational use under the guise of medical treatment." If that happens, people who smoke pot recreationally because it's fun, enjoyable, and makes them feel good will be able to do so without fear of going to jail or having their life ruined. Imagine the anarchy that will ensue if that happens.

Oklahomans are clearly skeptical of such claims and the motives of marijuana-legalization proponents. At the same time, legitimate medical research regarding potential use of marijuana extracts is already legal in Oklahoma.

Last year, the Legislature approved House Bill 2154, which allows Oklahomans to participate in clinical trials for cannabidiol. That drug is extracted from marijuana stalks and doesn't contain the chemical that creates marijuana's narcotic affect. It's believed the drug could help treat people who suffer seizures due to epilepsy. That measure passed with only two votes in opposition out the 149 members of the Legislature.

Clearly, even tough-on-crime Oklahomans will support serious, credible medical research involving limited uses of marijuana. But they have no interest in pretending stoners in the park are pharmaceutical trailblazers.

And that's how the editorial ends... with a misleading, negative, derogatory stereotype about marijuana users. That's always a great way to close a convincing argument, right?

I hate to break it to the brilliant newspaper that endorsed people like Mary Fallin and Janet Barresi for public office, but most people who smoke pot are not "stoners in the park." They don't live in a Cheech and Chong movie. They're your family members, neighbors and co-workers. They're responsible, normal adults with jobs. They're attorneys, doctors and some are even OPUBCO employees. I know that because I've smoked out with them... allegedly.

Thanks to the work of Green The Vote, some day these people will be able to legally grow, buy and sell medicinal marijuana in Oklahoma. The marijuana movement isn't going anywhere. It may not be this year, or the next, but it will happen eventually. When it does, I hope The Oklahoman will still be around to cover it. I'd love nothing more than to a roll a joint with its editorial page, inhale the vapors and watch it burn. You know, for my asthma.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter