As I reflect back upon the last year since SQ #788 passed, I’m reminded of so many things; mostly the patients. My story begins years ago as many others do with me hiding in the shadows and a passion for growing cannabis.
My journey with medical cannabis began after a life-changing accident in 1998 as I looked for symptom relief from the pharmaceutical cocktail that I had been prescribed. I didn’t know much about growing at this point, so I set out to learn as much as possible. I could go on and on about how what worked for me and what didn’t, but that is a whole different discussion and again this really isn’t about my patient story.
Katie’s Law was signed into law back in 2015, and this is when this story truly starts because again this just isn’t about one patient’s story. When the activist groups began to form I met people from all walks of life and listened to their stories. I listened to those staunchly opposed to cannabis in any form and I had to hide my cannabis use from friends and family because of it. Then I met and listened to the families whose lives had been directly affected by cannabis.
Ultimately I saw the children and others who suffered from various conditions and ailments and it broke my heart. Working in Physical Therapy from 2005 to 2013 put me in a unique position to visit with people from all walks of life. Most would share personal stories with me about how their cannabis use was helping them get through their day. I wanted to share my personal stories back with them, but I could not. I began to visit with lawmakers as the first petition drives started with some of the earlier groups, but I always came back to the patients. Then I met some amazing people that would stand on the sides of busy streets waving flags on cold windy days. They were chasing those signatures. Those people are my heroes.
Some of them were out there fighting for family members. Some of them were fighting for their children and yet others just fighting because they knew it was right and just. The more I spoke with my fellow activists and spent time with other families desperate for this life-saving medication; the more I knew that I had to do something. Multiple times I watched my family suffer due to my extensive pain management. Financially we were crippled with my monthly pharmacy bill; so how was everyone else coping with this? For years I had thought about giving up everything and moving my family to Colorado. This was mainly because I was tired of living in fear of growing the medication that my body needed. I honestly expected that knock on the door at any moment. I wanted to run away. I wanted safety from the law. I wanted the freedom to grow the very plant that was giving my life back to me and my family. So when #788 was in full swing I knew that I would be staying in Oklahoma to help continue the fight. I knew that I had to help and I needed to do something to help all of the other patients
Everywhere I went, most were positive about the petition and its chances of passing and others weren’t so sure. Then there was that historic day in June of 2018 that over 500,000 people stood up in favor of medical cannabis in Oklahoma, creating the 57%. I remember the mood and the excitement with everyone after passage while it awaited signature from the Governor. Is this real? Will someone please pinch me? Do we have legal medical cannabis in Oklahoma? Having seen it in other states knew the green rush was coming as activists and individuals alike began to prepare for their license applications (myself included). I mean, after all, my family did support me and stood by me as I fought to get off opiates. Why wouldn’t I apply for a commercial license to help my family regain much of what was lost? As I along with many other business owners prepared to open legal cannabis operations, I began to research the costs. This allowed me to fine tune my business model around the “patients over profits” model. I worked closely with a team of entrepreneurial students from a local university to develop the cost model associated with the farm.
When active sales began in October of 2018 we were all excited, but that quickly faded as the prices came out all over the place and they were ultimately not affordable. In the beginning, the prices were at an unsustainable rate that patients couldn’t afford, so what could we do to help here at Okie Tokie Farms? Our pricing structure was based around the national cannabis benchmark and we sought to make cannabis affordable for everyone. This is where our company philosophy came from. “No Patient should have to live in poverty because of their choices in healthcare.”
We believe in providing a quality medication that doesn’t leave the patient having to choose between paying their light bill or getting their medication. Helping others achieve independence is second nature and is key to our company’s success. We here at Okie Tokie Farms have a vision for the future. We look to expand upon our work here that we have already begun. Moving forward, we will be conducting lab research to perfect the right blends for a host of patient conditions. Cannabis as a whole has been marketed wrong for many years. Okie Tokie Farms along with our retail stores “Smoke Moore Cannabis” intend to redefine the way cannabis is marketed as a whole.
Okie Tokie Farms believe that medical cannabis should be sold by the active terpene profile present in that particular cultivar; the reason for this is tailor the experience to the patient. The name of the cultivar is really immaterial and what truly defines the patient experience are the active terpenes in the plant. If we begin to guide patients through the process with the proper education and tools at hand, the choice in medicine becomes easier. Ultimately we must be careful to not play doctor. We must simply share personal experiences we’ve had with our patients as they come in. Listing the active terpene profile along with additional testing will allow the patient to make informed decisions.
As we embark on new research projects and bring new products online, we will always strive to keep our prices affordable. We believe in patients over profits. Okie Tokie Farms will also be working with the Oklahoma Veteran’s Cannabis Collective to give back to others through various projects that will be announced over the next few months. The Farm will also be starting a Compassionate Care Program. Again, this isn’t just about one patient, it’s about the 57% that voted yes on SQ #788 and all the others that were too afraid to vote or just unable to get to the polls.
When you see the #PatientsOverProfits on our social media posts or you hear us say it at an event, take heart in knowing that we live by this. We will continue to work with other activists and have a dialogue with lawmakers as we seek to expand access for all patients and remove any roadblocks preventing access to safe medication. Personally voting “Yes on 788” was the moment I got to check a ballot box and take back my personal freedom. Voting “Yes on 788” gave me the confidence to step out of the shadows and not live in fear anymore. When 788 finally passed, I knew it was time for work to be done. If you catch me around and about, make sure you say hello, because I want to hear your patient story too!
About The Author
Kris “Sparky” Molskness Sparky is a U.S. Army and Army Reserves non-combat veteran from 1991-1994 with background in Physical Therapy specializing in Neuromuscular rehabilitation. Sparky is the Chief Operations Officer of Okie Tokie Farms and provides day to day managerial and operational support to the many companies within the Okie Tokie Farms family.