The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Oklahoma voters just approved one of the most progressive medical marijuana bills in the country

The leaves of a marijuana plant inside Ultra Health’s cultivation greenhouse in Bernalillo, N.M. (Susan Montoya Bryan/AP)

Oklahoma voters approved a medical marijuana bill on Tuesday, making the state the 30th in the nation to permit the use of marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation.

The measure is notable for reflecting one of the most permissive medical cannabis policies in the country. While most states specify a narrow list of medical conditions for which doctors can recommend the plant, in Oklahoma doctors will be able to recommend it for any condition.

Last year the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine reviewed the evidence on medical marijuana and concluded that it is effective at reducing chronic pain in adults, as well as nausea and vomiting in cancer patients.

Oklahoma patients with a medical marijuana license will be able to possess up to eight ounces of marijuana in their residences, carry up to three ounces, and grow up to 12 marijuana plants. The limits for possession and cultivation are stricter in many other states, and some states, such as New York, mandate that the drug cannot be smoked.

Additionally, Oklahoma’s measure reduces penalties for the possession of up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana for any individual with a medical condition, regardless of whether they have a medical marijuana license.

With 98 percent of precincts reporting as of 10 p.m. Central time, the medical marijuana measure was leading with the support of 57 percent of voters, with 43 percent opposed. That level of support is striking for a primary election in a deep red state that voted for President Trump by a greater than a 2-to-1 margin in 2016.

Members of the state’s Republican establishment had lined up in opposition to the measure. U.S. Sen. James Lankford recorded a TV ad urging voters to reject the measure, arguing that “our families won’t be better if more parents and grandparents smoke more marijuana.” Gov. Mary Fallin said the measure “basically allows recreational marijuana in the state of Oklahoma.”

Tuesday’s results suggest that Oklahoma Republicans largely shrugged off those concerns. About 53 percent of voters cast ballots in the GOP gubernatorial primary this evening, suggesting the medical marijuana measure won over a majority-Republican electorate.

Fallin said in a statement that she “will be discussing with legislative leaders and state agencies our options going forward on how best to proceed with adding a medical and proper regulatory framework to make sure marijuana use is truly for valid medical illnesses.”