The 2018 Oklahoma primary election is set for June 26. Among the decisions Oklahoma voters will make include the gubernatorial primary, legislative primaries and one ballot measure—State Question 788, which would legalize so-called “medical marijuana” in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma is one of several states voting upon marijuana legalization measures in 2018. Supporters of the measure, including William Jones of the “Vote Yes On 788 campaign” claim SQ 788 “was designed to make Oklahoma the most patient-oriented and business friendly state for the medical marijuana industry. SQ 788 will create jobs, sorely needed tax revenue and possess a number of patient protections that simply don’t exist in other states with similar laws.”
Opponents of SQ 788, which include medical professionals, faith leaders, law enforcement experts and members from the business community disagree and have recently raised their voices in opposition. In a May 16 article in The Oklahoman, several of these voices of opposition who are part of a Coalition called “SQ 788 is NOT Medical,” were quoted.
“This question is too broad and does not have the support of the medical community,” said Kevin Taubman, immediate past-president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association and campaign chairman of the new coalition.
The article went on to say, “One of opponents’ biggest criticisms of the proposed law change—that it would permit doctors to approve the licensing of marijuana use for practically any purpose. Rather than identifying specific ailments for which marijuana can be prescribed, the proposed law says ‘there are no qualifying conditions.’
“Among the members of the Coalition was the Oklahoma State Medical Association… the Oklahoma Pharmacists Association, State Chamber of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Sheriffs’ Association, Catholic Conference of Oklahoma and Oklahoma District Attorneys Association.”
Roy Williams, president of the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, said, “The business community has serious concerns about how this state question is written. This state question infringes upon our rights to operate a drug-free workplace. Our opposition centers around our concerns for the safety of employees and the public.”
Catholic leaders, including the Catholic Conference of Oklahoma, Archbishop Paul Coakley and Bishop David Konderla also spoke againt SQ 788.
Baptist leaders voice concern over SQ 788
In addition to these, various Southern Baptist leaders have spoken out against SQ 788.
Hance Dilbeck, executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, said, “The rising popularity of marijuana in America is a major concern. While we understand and agree with the desire to find ways to alleviate suffering through medicine, medical marijuana is an unproven and unwise method, especially the way this state question proposes it be used and distributed.”
Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), also spoke against the measure.
“Every state should seek to protect its people from the trafficking of addictive, mind-altering drugs. Legalizing drugs leaves neighborhoods and schools vulnerable for exploitation. My hope is that Oklahoma will vote down marijuana legalization and continue to put legal barriers between addiction and the communities it devastates,” Moore said.
Brian Hobbs, editor of the Baptist Messenger and State ERLC Liaison said, “Even if you support medical marijuana in Oklahoma, this is not a good proposal. State Question 788 much more closely resembles recreational marijuana, and voters need to know that.”
SQ 788 is the only state question before voters on the June 26 ballot, and early public opinion polls show voters favor the issue.
“Unless the voices of opposition turn the tide of debate, Oklahoma soon will become one of several states to legalized marijuana use in some form,” Hobbs added.