Last July I met privately with the House Democrat leader, Steve Kouplen. I thanked him for stepping up to the effort to add some sensible structure to the statutes passed by the people.
Rep. Kouplen's response was a bit surprising. He was quite pessimistic that anything would come out of these meetings.
That was July. Now it's September and while Oklahoma legislators have a lot more knowledge of the medicines and the industry behind it, there appears very little courage to show leadership, by our legislature's rank & file membership.
After 8 weeks of Wednesday gatherings from very cooperative and committed industry leaders, nothing seems ready to be presented in time for the first harvest of cannabis, less than 60 days from now.
Kouplen and his Democrat caucus now seems disappointed that the leadership has nothing in the way of standardized potency guidelines and verification. Without that component, the processing of Cannabis with any amount of THC will be totally up to the volunteer efforts of the manufacturer. Even the strains of Cannabis will vary greatly and the patient will have no certainty beyond the claims of the grower and the processor.
Minority Leader Calls for Limited Special Session
Marijuana Working Group Should Vote on Recommending a Bill
Oklahoma City - Today, House Minority Leader Steve Kouplen, (D-Beggs), called on the Medical Marijuana Working Group to vote on recommending a bill for immediate action in a limited special session.
“As Democrats, our caucus entered into this group stating that we expected action, not participation in a political maneuver to simply ease the outrage over the failure to implement the will of the people and the failed leadership on this issue by Governor Fallin.” stated Democratic House Minority Leader, Rep. Steve Kouplen.
“We have heard from OSDH Commissioner Tom Bates, who said the Department of Health does not have the legal authority to require testing without legislative action. The Oklahoma Attorney General, Mike Hunter confirmed that this authority is not granted to OSDH and has rejected regulations that overstepped their statutory authority. Yesterday, we heard from an outside testing consultant that his personal opinion is that rapid advancement of testing capabilities is “extraordinarily important to protecting the interest of public health for the citizens of Oklahoma. I would do it as quickly as possible”.
“As Democrats, our top concern is that we proceed with a timely, safe and effective implementation of what Oklahomans voted for. We have a bill in front of us that was assembled by industry experts and a coalition of activist organizations, based on tested standards in successful programs, nationwide.” Kouplen said.
Expressing concern over lack of urgency shown on this effort, Ben Loring, (D-Miami) said “While I wasn’t supportive of SQ 788, like many Oklahomans who were both for and against the program, I want to see the will of the people respected. No other industry that puts forth this level of effort to work as a responsible partner in our state gets rejected in this manner. We are talking about our state being flooded with a Schedule 1 Narcotic, with no quality controls or labeling of product contents. Punting this to the spring will allow at least 6 months of uncertainty for patients and their physicians as to what medicine they are taking. While the Governor has said a special session would be premature, I believe public safety can’t wait another 9 months.”
Discussing how a limited special session would impact legislators facing reelection, Jacob Rosecrants, (D-Norman), stated, “Like many of my colleagues, I am on the ballot in November. In knocking thousands of doors in my district, I know that voters expect more than words. They expect us to take action. An upcoming election should be reason to act, not an excuse to ignore reality and let yet another crisis develop in our state. It’s time that leaders lead and begin to set ourselves up for success, not continue the failures of the past.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: State Rep. Steve Kouplen
Phone: (405) 557-7306