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420 Commentary: Legalize medical marijuana

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On April 11, the Oklahomans for Health organization filed paperwork to pursue State Question 787. This petition drive will place language on the November ballot to allow medicinal marijuana use under the care of a doctor in Oklahoma.

This follows up on the effort begun two years ago that attempted an amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution. The major difference with this new petition is the language will instead amend the Oklahoma statutes. This only requires 8 percent of the number of votes in the previous governor’s election, about 66,000 signatures of registered Oklahoma voters. The last attempt saw more than 75,000 signatures collected.

We simply need to look around us at those who would receive the benefits of this treatment for why this is so important. When watching a loved one enter the final stages of life and seeing their need for pain management, it is apparent to many that all options should be on the table for doctors to use.

To see a person in their final days need a morphine drip should be enough for anyone to realize another form of pain treatment should be allowed if available. Often, chemotherapy, the treatment for cancer, is as excruciating as the actual illness.

Others can attest to friends who have struggled with painkiller addiction from prescription medications, which many times lead to arrest. I also have known those who have lost their lives due to this struggle. The final conversation I had with a friend from my hometown before he died was on this exact topic. He simply did not understand why it was illegal to use something that could help so many overcome the devastating effects of pain pill dependence. His son faced addiction to narcotics, and he saw this as a way to find the help he needed to overcome that. I know he would be proud the state is now giving a serious and legitimate consideration to this discussion.
I became more involved after meeting with Brittany Hardy, a mother who fought for the use of CBD oil for her daughter to help overcome the seizures this child was experiencing. This led to a bipartisan legislative study and a new law to allow children to have this as a treatment. Strides have been made, and now the next step to treat others should be considered.

Ultimately, I trust medical doctors — not bureaucrats or politicians — to make decisions on my best plan for health care. The stigma associated with marijuana is instilled in us as we grow up. It has grown less polarizing as Oklahoma Farm Bureau and American Farmers & Ranchers Mutual Insurance Company support policy to legalize commercial growing of hemp for economic purposes.

Law enforcement has its concerns, and many are justified. We do need regulation of these many substances to avoid abuse or addiction. I disagree with them that something should be completely banned instead of placed under the care of a doctor if it improves the life and health of someone. Simply saying no to all cases is too heavy-handed.

With this current petition language, there is additional funding guaranteed for oversight and regulation.

This will provide the resources for them to verify if someone has possession with a legitimate license for usage. Law enforcement will adapt to regulation just like they did following the repeal of prohibition of alcohol over 80 years ago.

Please give this a serious and legitimate discussion. I feel this is important for those in need of all options for the care of a doctor. I hope you will agree and sign the petition.

Joe Dorman is a Democrat from Rush Springs who represented District 65 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives for 12 years. He was the 2014 Democratic nominee for governor of Oklahoma. 

Opinions expressed on the commentary page, in letters to the editor and elsewhere in this newspaper are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ownership or management.

Oklahoma Gazette provides an open forum for the discussion of all points of view in its Letters to the Editor section. The Gazette reserves the right to edit letters for length and clarity. Letters can be mailed, faxed, emailed to jchancellor@okgazette.com or sent online at okgazette.com. Include a city of residence and contact number for verification.

(Christopher Street)

(Christopher Street)

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