Unbuckling The Bible Belt: The Story of State Question 788

To the surprise of the nation, Oklahoma is today rolling out one of the fastest and farthest reaching medical cannabis laws in the country. Earlier this year, grassroots patients and activists around Oklahoma came together and achieved the unachievable, they fought the law, and they won.

“I think it is great because basically Oklahoma just unbuckled the Bible Belt. We are just shocking people with what we are doing down here,” said advocate John Frasure.

In 2013, a new group, Oklahomans for Health (OKFH), was formed in an attempt to run a medical cannabis initiative on the 2014 midterm ballot. The rules for signature petitions in the state are restrictive, advocates have just a 90-day window to collect signatures. OKFH came short of their goal in 2014 but were able to qualify for the 2016 presidential election ballot. Ultimately they were kept off the ballot by then-attorney general Scott Pruitt, who failed to certify the initiative on time and re-wrote the title to make it seem as if OKFH was trying to legalize adult use cannabis.

OKFH sued and on March 27, 2017, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled in their favor. In January 2018, Gov. Mary Fallin scheduled State Question 788 for a vote on the 2018 primary ballot, which would typically have a lower voter turnout.

But instead, the mid-term primary had a record turnout, one of the highest in state history, exceeding the votes in the 2016 presidential primary and the 2014 gubernatorial election. And despite a flood of money that came in opposition, just over $1 million to the proponents’ $177,000, SQ 788 still passed with nearly 57 percent of the vote. The success can be attributed to a volunteer patient advocate army that traveled the state registering and educating voters.

“Between January and May of 2018, we registered 30,000 new voters. All of those people absolutely registered to vote on this issue,” says Chip Paul, a founder of OKFH and co-author of SQ 788.

Almost immediately state regulators tried to enact restrictions that would ban cannabis flower, force women of childbearing age to take a pregnancy test before they could be written a cannabis recommendation, cap dispensaries at 50 each and require a pharmacist to be present at all times.

“The Oklahoma State Department of Health has enacted law that undermines one of the most participated-in elections in state history and silences the voice of Oklahomans across this state,” wrote state representative Jason Lowe in a press release in July. “Today’s decision is an affront to democracy and an insult to the law-abiding citizens that showed up to vote for this initiative.”

On July 12, Gov. Fallin signed the new restrictive regulations into law but was met with such an incredible backlash, including from the new Attorney General, Mike Hunter, who warned the Department of Health didn’t have that sort of regulatory power. New regulations in line with the intent of SQ 788 were then sent to Fallin’s desk and signed on August 6. The people won, and today licenses are already being issued, patients certified and cannabis sales have begun.

The victory was hard fought by a diverse set of activists who came together across political and social lines to change an unjust law.

Overcoming Fear and Misinformation

“I thought, when we voted on June 26, I am going to take the day off on June 27,” said Norma Sapp, who has been working to change cannabis policy in Oklahoma since 1984 when she founded Oklahoma NORML. She laughed, “No! It has been double hard since then. I thought being out in the heat gathering signatures was hard, but nope, it’s really hard to deal with some of these people in these small towns in Oklahoma.”

Since the passage of SQ 788, Sapp and other activists have been traveling the state to prevent local legislation that seeks to restrict patient access. She says it is a challenge because there is a huge information gap to fill.

“I am still trucking every day. I have been traveling all over this state to all these small towns and trying to get them to change their rules, and it usually works when enough people show up,” Sapp said.

She says, for the most part, advocates have shown up and have prevented bad city-level regulations around the state. But the work is tireless and all-volunteer.

Despite three decades of Oklahoma cannabis activism, Sapp was not actually born in Oklahoma but moved there in 1979.

“My grandparents were from here, my mom says I was conceived here, so I guess that makes me an Okie,” she said laughing.

When she started Oklahoma NORML in 1984, it was just her. She moved to rural Norman and had just started farming as she was learning about all the things that could be done with the hemp crop. She started holding “Free Breakfast for Farmers” events at a local cafe if the farmers would come and watch the movie Hemp for Victory.

“I was sold, I thought if everybody knew the things hemp could do we could get this all changed, but I found how hard it is to change a law that is so lucrative for the state,” she said. “It was difficult to be anything related to cannabis in those years, but I learned a lot about rural Oklahoma and it still hasn’t changed.”

Sapp evolved into a full-time activist, stepping in to advocate for pain patients and for statewide prison reform. She joined every group working on the cannabis reform movement. She became one of the go-to people as the grassroots movement for SQ 788 was taking hold.

“It seems like I am the mother of the state. Everyone asks me how to do things, I spend 16 to 18 hours a day online answering questions,” Sapp said.

She said over all those years the possibility of cannabis law reform looked bleak, until one day in February 2013 when she held a rally at the Capitol in Oklahoma City that had a higher than expected turnout.

“It was a huge gathering of people, an unreal amount of people. Something magic happened that day,” she said.

Delivering the Truth

The group that assembled at the capital that day would go on to lead the charge for 788. Sapp has been particularly motivating to new activists, particularly Chris Moe, aka Uncle Grumpy.

“Norma convinced me in a very short amount of time that I could change the world, and I believed her,” Moe said.

Moe rides motorcycles and says the name “Uncle Grumpy” came from a biker friend because he is direct and “a bit of a jerk”, as he puts it. Originally from California, Moe moved to Oklahoma in 1979 when he was in his early teens. Having spent much of his adult life as a truck driver he has been all over the United States and says he believes people in Oklahoma are just generally nicer.

“I have been all over the country, I am here on purpose,” Moe says.

Moe, now 51, broke his back and neck at work at the age of 38. With a wife and young children to support, he was about to go on disability and start a life as a pain management patient. He says he was put on a slew of pharmaceutical drugs—nearly 10,000 pills a year—resulting in seven surgeries in 14 years, spiraling depression and divorce. When he started using cannabis instead, he got his life back. He threw himself into activism to change the law so Oklahomans like him could stop fleeing the state.

“Cannabis has been more than medicine for me. It saved my life and gave me purpose in what I do now,” Moe said.

Part of the Uncle Grumpy persona is his long beard, which he stopped cutting when he learned about the movement towards SQ 788. He decided not to cut it after it passed because he had “a nasty feeling the fight wasn’t over… The beard has become part of the movement.”

Moe started as a volunteer on the Yes on 788 campaign and would educate on Facebook Live with the offer of bringing voter registration forms and education direct to anyone who asked. He rode his motorcycle around the state making house visits. He worked alongside all the organizations contributing to the 788 effort, but never affiliated directly with any of them. Instead, he and Sapp have worked to hold the state government and its smaller municipalities accountable as they try to make their own regulations around the law.

“Some cities are trying to make people register for a local permit, what is that for? Not the health department. It’s for law enforcement,” Moe says.

Moe, who lives in Muskogee, commutes once a week to the capitol to advocate with Sapp and others and to prevent bad legislation that would block the intent of the law.

“We have been fighting people who have refused to allow us to have cannabis. Now we have passed 788, we are getting cards, we have got businesses open, we have got people selling clones. And currently right now, as someone who knows more than most about what is going on behind the scenes, I am waiting for that shoe to drop, and it’s gonna be a big shoe,” Moe said.

Oklahoma Connected for the First Time

Most of Oklahoma’s advocates agree that social media was one of the most essential tools in organizing the movement around 788. Norma Sapp recalls the difficulties in organizing state advocates, where so much of the population lives in rural areas far outside the cities, and how that stymied efforts in the 1980s, 90s and early 2000s.

“People would have to travel to a city for meetings, and sometimes I would travel to them, but most of the time people wouldn’t show up,” Sapp said. “When Facebook happened, I could have meetings every day with everyone there all the time. That has been the best organizing tool ever.”

She and others say the network they have built on Facebook drove the volunteer army into action.

“There wasn’t a large amount of money put into 788, or none of the other petitions either. We started with enough money to print a copy for everyone and mail them out. Each individual person spent their own time, money and effort to gather those signatures. They bought all their own supplies. This was a truly grassroots effort, all the way along,” Sapp said.

“Social media was vital to this…We realized with all the rural areas we were going to have trouble trying to reach people,” said Shelley Free, a volunteer organizer on the campaign. “Literally we have people who live off the grid here who don’t come into town to do anything, not even to vote. They are self-sustaining, have power, well water and food out there.”

Free adds that local media also relied on advocates posting and going live on Facebook for their own reporting, she personally fielded 12-13 interview requests from her page.

While accelerating the movement towards medical cannabis in Oklahoma, social media has not been without its downsides.

“[Social media] is a double-edged sword. In terms of spreading the word, awareness and gathering certain activists it has been very important,” says Dean Franklin Groves. “It is also a place where misinformation spreads wild… Social media has been key, but it has also been highly erosive to some of the issues. Social media really allows people with time and/or narcissism to promote themselves endlessly.”

Groves is a Tulsa native who has been active politically for years and has been involved with the advocate networks in Oklahoma since 2011 as part of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement. Like other cannabis advocacy networks that have sprung up around the country, social media networking tools and methods developed during OWS helped launch cannabis legislative efforts.

Groves became a founding member of Oklahomans for Health. Like OWS before it, he said one of the keys to OKFH and the broader activist network was the lack of a traditional leadership structure.

“There was no hierarchy, that was the entire point of Oklahomans for Health. We developed an alternate organizing model because as an occupier we know how messed up hierarchy can get and that was what empowered us to create this broad organization,” Groves said.

He points to the broad freedoms under 788 as one of the reasons Oklahoma’s medical cannabis has been so much more successful than nearby states.

“Unlike Arkansas and other programs that are very authoritarian in nature in determining who gets a license, we did like the Sooner State method where everyone lines up and then, shotgun and go,” Groves said.

Oklahomans for Health

One of the people Sapp and Groves linked up within 2013 was Chip Paul. With a small group of others, they founded OKFH. Paul co-authored SQ 788.

“In every other state, cannabis initiatives have been backed by big business interests or personal individuals with a lot of money. I think we are the first state to really pass a medical marijuana law without an agenda. That helps and hurts, it helps because we got 57 percent of people focused on it, but lawmakers don’t know where to go. Who leads this movement? Well, we all do,” Paul said.

Paul is a sixth-generation Oklahoman and business attorney with an influential family both in Oklahoma and nationally. In 2014 he saw a poll that indicated Oklahomans were 65 percent in favor of medical cannabis, so he called a meeting with his wife Cynthia and other community members to gauge interest in running a state question, and OKFH was born.

Paul was adamant that a government list of qualifying conditions should not be used as a barrier to prevent patient access to cannabis, he insisted instead on allowing medical cannabis use to be determined by the doctor in consultation with the patient.

“We knew it worked for a myriad of conditions and we didn’t want to restrict it, but now physicians have the freedom to study this with their patients,” Paul said. “When we give physicians the magic screwdriver called cannabis, it is capable of doing almost anything in the body. It’s a magic screwdriver, but if they don’t know how to wield it, we need to shape what they are doing.”

He says when OKFH launched its efforts he was looking for a professional who could lead the effort, but when none emerged he stepped up. Over the next two years and through the first rounds of efforts to bring it to the ballot, the advocate network solidified and expanded. Paul and other advocates attribute the success to the volunteers who traveled the state.

“Anytime you have a united front, that is a powerful thing… It worked. We were outspent 10 to 1 and we still got 57 percent of the vote. That was many, many people getting out all over the state and talking to people, basically beating down fear, uncertainty, and doubt,” he said. “Every single public official in Oklahoma was against us and came out publicly against us.”

The opposition was a who’s who of the “usual suspects” that come out in opposition to cannabis in every state; politicians, law enforcement, chambers of commerce and businesses that are tied to pharmaceutical profits.

Paul is encouraged by the rollout he is seeing today, but says he also sees three major flaws with the current regulations; a lack of lab-testing standards, the overreach of cities in regulating away the intent of the state law, and local zoning laws being added to negate the industry and grow rights.

He and other advocates say they aren’t too concerned with the coming 2019 session because the advocate community is so well organized and diligent, and an emerging powerful force in state politics. He does believe that if adult-use cannabis legislation is to come to Oklahoma in 2020, it will require the support of the emerging business community.

Greening the Vote

Isaac Caviness first got involved in cannabis advocacy for his wife, who suffers from chronic incurable migraines. After he was targeted, raided, and arrested for trying to help her, he decided it was time to do something. He fought his case rather than take a plea, and on February 14, 2015, he was given a deferred sentence.

A month later outspoken advocate Damon Beck was arrested. Caviness reached out to empathize, offer assistance and recommend his attorney. Beck told him he was trying to organize a petition for 2015 and wanted Caviness to start attending meetings. His wife urged caution, she wasn’t comfortable with him getting involved.

“When your wife is thrown in county jail, she doesn’t get over it quick,” he said.

After three weeks of meetings, he was frustrated with the progress being made.

“Everyone was coming together to complain about marijuana being illegal but no one had a game plan on how to fix it,” Caviness said.

He initially suggested that Beck take charge to get people registered to vote and raise money to support the upcoming petition initiative being run by Oklahomans for Health. Beck suggested that Caviness was the better leader.
Caviness decided to organize a voter registration drive for the 2015 Rocklahoma show. Playing off the phrase “Rock the Vote” they called the effort “Green the Vote.”

“It was only supposed to be a one-night thing, and just a project in support of OKFH,” he said.

But people were enthusiastic to register to vote for cannabis, so Green the Vote became an organization, with Caviness as president. The fact they were getting people across the state excited, they realized they had to take on a bigger mission and would work to register voters and raise money to support efforts being made by OKFH.

They did car washes to raise money for the petition and educational material printing, but for the most part were basically an all-volunteer army pulling from their own limited funds. They set up chapters in 50 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties, each with chapter leaders training and organizing volunteers locally.

Caviness is the owner of Tulsa’s HempRx low-THC cannabis dispensary. During all the signature drives he set up two cots that are still in the back of his store, which he converted into a 24-hour petition signing and voter registration hub and purchased the cots so volunteers could take breaks to rest.

Today, Caviness’ store, like many other CBD dispensaries around the state, is making preparations to become a whole plant dispensary and is already selling CBD flower and other medical cannabis goods under 1% THC by weight.

When SQ 788 passed in June, Caviness was worried that as a state statute (which is easier to collect ballot signatures for), that the legislature could cripple the intent of the law. Green the Vote set out to run two more initiatives, this time much more solid constitutional amendments, to firm up 788 and also legalize adult use on the November ballot. These initiatives, SQ 796 and 797, fell just short of their signature-gathering goals to qualify.

Educating Law Enforcement

Shelly Free, a former board member at Green the Vote, worked hard not only on voter registration but also on holding education seminars in conservative areas of the state, speaking from a law enforcement perspective about cannabis.

Free was born and raised in a small town in Oklahoma, and after completing her associate’s degree she became a Tulsa deputy sheriff while also working on a bachelor’s degree in political science and sociology, with a focus on social movements and protest.

“I never have believed that possession should be criminalized… I never did write a ticket or do an arrest for any kind of cannabis-related charge,” she said.

After being injured during an assault on duty that required surgeries on her back, Free resigned from the Sheriff’s office. She was prescribed pharmaceutical drugs like Xanax, Ativan, and sedatives. A friend suggested she try cannabis, and she got off the meds and started working with activist groups during the petitioning of 788.

Free said that although there was and still is a gap in understanding about cannabis in the law enforcement community, most officers know about how people behave with it and choose not to prioritize it in enforcement.

“They realize that these ‘offenders’ in our community are not really offending they are just existing. A lot of law enforcement is under the impression that they are not an issue. But then you have officers that work these main highways [that do interdiction and] they’re waiting to pounce, they’re waiting for that first odor, that first stench to come across the air so they can tear somebody’s car apart to find the joint, “she said.”And so it depends on what part of the state you are in. If you are or are not in a progressive area or, sadly, very sadly, what color your skin is, what you drive, what neighborhood you are in.”

The First Legal Plant Purchase

In late September, U.S. Marine Corps veteran John Frasure made the first legal purchase of a high-THC cannabis starter plant. Frasure is a pain management patient who went from taking over 5,500 pills a year; hydrocodone, Xanax, Klonopin, Seroquel, and Neurontin, or as he put it “the usual salad of drugs they give ya.” He is proud to be free of these drugs today.

He says it was a “planned buy” at his friend’s dispensary, Wild Herb LLC in Fairfax. They toyed with how he could make a symbolic payment, originally planning to pay with four $20 bills. But knowing that the bill would be framed in the shop, and become a part of state history, they opted to use a $100 bill for the first purchase. He says they looked over a few bills trying to find one that had the numbers “420” or “788” in them, but when they couldn’t find it they settled on one with his initials, JF. The store owners and Frasure signed it.

“Oh yeah I signed it, you bet!” he said.

Frasure, who was born and raised in Chickasha but now lives in Norman. He started out volunteering for SQ 788 part-time but really dove in as he got to know patients.

“When I started, I was just a volunteer sitting on a street corner…the more I sat there and got signatures, people started telling me their stories and that is what changed me from being a volunteer to a patient advocate, because people with all the diseases cannabis can help would come by and talk to me and just rip my heart out telling me their stories. I became a patient advocate right then,” Frasure says.

Frasure got involved with Green the Vote and Oklahomans for Health and then “with any group that had cannabis in their name.”

He says the opposition to 788 just fueled his and other advocates efforts even more.

“The Reefer Madness in Oklahoma is still running so rampant, it just drives me crazy. I can’t believe all this stuff… We just used that to feed us. The more they did it the more the volunteers we had out working harder, they had no idea how mobilized we could get.”

Today, Frasure is proud to have taken part in Oklahomans’ new hard-won rights, but like other advocates, is looking to the business community to fuel further efforts in 2020 and beyond.

“It used to be that you would be so paranoid about carrying a joint with you because they will take your car away, arrest you, take you to jail- the whole drill. But now I have a card that says I can carry three ounces of weed, an ounce of dabs, 72 ounces of edibles, it’s cool!” Frasure said. “But now I just wanna go fishin’, get some herb, and kick back at my house. But, I know that is probably not gonna happen. I will stay involved in our cannabis community, I guarantee that.”

The Lone Patient Advocate on the State Regulatory Board

“I am one of 12, literally one of 12 when it comes to being pro-cannabis. That is my job as the patient advocate for the state of Oklahoma, and I take that seriously,” says Ray Jennings, who is the only patient advocate on the state board of health’s regulatory advisory board as well as a board member at OKFH. “A lot of politicians feel their opinion of this is more important than the will of the people.”

The recommendations the board makes don’t become law, but suggestions for regulations enacted by the state department of health. His input has become vital.

“They see [regulations] as an opportunity to limit people’s’ access and I am not in favor of that,” he said.

Jennings wasn’t always pro-cannabis, in fact, he was quite opposed to it. He was raised in the rural town of Bixby, outside of Tulsa. He says he was raised with an understanding that “marijuana is bad and will hurt you and tear your family apart.” He joined the army after high school and then started a professional career back home in Oklahoma.

Everything changed in 2014 when he was diagnosed with stage-4 squamous cell carcinoma, he had a tumor “the size of a golf ball” in the base of his tongue and mouth that had spread into his lymph nodes. It was essentially a death sentence. He decided rather than taking opiates and other drugs to comfort him through death, he was gonna try to fight it. He started many rounds of intense chemotherapy and radiation.

Jennings is tall, six foot three, and started treatments at 290 pounds. Four days into treatment, he started puking uncontrollably. He was given a feeding tube for nourishment, as he could no longer eat through his mouth. The pharmaceutical nausea medications were not working for him.

“In less than 90 days I was about 200 pounds, I was in poor shape,” Jennings said.

His youngest son was attending college in Colorado and begged him to try cannabis. He told him no, that medical cannabis wasn’t real and it was “just people wanting to get high.”

“My government told me my whole life that marijuana was for losers, I was indoctrinated like most of us were,” he said. “When I realized I was definitely on the path to death, how sick I was, I finally smoked a little bit.”

Within three to four minutes, the nausea he had been plagued with for months calmed.

“It really struck me, I remember it like it was today, it had such a profound impact on me,” he said.

He started taking full extract cannabis oil that was high in both THC and CBD orally and rubbing it over his tongue where the tumor was located. He increased his dose to three to five times a day. One month later a scan showed that the tumor shrunk by 50 percent. By that August, he was cancer free.

“If I hadn’t tried the THC oil, I would have been dead and it would have been the government’s fault for lying to me my
They told me going into this I was going to die. They told me if I took the chemo and radiation I would still die, but it would be a horrible death,” he said.

His experience has turned him into a dedicated advocate, determined to educate his fellow conservative rural Oklahomans.

“I think I am here because God wanted me to be here and go forward and be a testimony about what this plant can do for the world,” Jennings said.

Not Enough Doctors

The phrase in SQ 788 saying only “Board Certified Physicians” could write cannabis recommendations has been interpreted to mean only doctors who have been board-certified nationally, rather than just the state. This has considerably limited the pool of doctors that even qualify to write recommendations. There are few places outside of the Oklahoma City and Tulsa areas where doctors are available to write recommendations, and many of those who are writing recommendations are charging as much as $350 in order to certify patients.

Dr. Brandon Bailey has made a point of writing recommendations patients can afford.

“My hope right now is to try and get as many patients into the system now… I think that is the biggest issue we are going to run into is meeting the new guidelines [from the legislature] I know will come into play about February, I suspect it will be limiting conditions,” Dr. Bailey said.

Dr. Bailey is 36-years-old and is active duty in the Army National Guard as well as a husband, father and professional MMA fighter. He spent the first five months of this year in Northeastern Afghanistan and returned home to the Tulsa area just before the vote on SQ 788. He has a full schedule; in the early mornings he spends time with his hospice patients before working in his private clinic, Evolved Health and Wellness in Broken Arrow, from 9-5. Afterward he goes straight to the hospital to treat his patients there until after midnight. On the weekends he takes care of his military duties. Still, he is seeing and writing over 50 cannabis recommendations a day and traveling to the farthest and most remote parts of the state to make sure all Oklahomans have access. He does free and discounted recommendations for the severely disabled and military veterans.

He hasn’t slept much since late July, but suspects there will be a slow down around January.

“It’s about trying to increase access if it wasn’t so time sensitive, if I wasn’t super concerned about the state limiting issues down the road I would say, ‘You know what? This weekend we can limit the number of patients today.’ I really feel like the more patients we can get in the system now the better it will be in the long run.”

Dr. Bailey was born and raised in Oklahoma and earned his degrees and did his residency at Oklahoma State University Medical Center. For the last 10 years, he has been active-duty Army National Guard.

He says he started taking a more serious look at cannabis as a medicine through his hospice patients. He also had a friend who was traveling back and forth from California to work in the industry who was putting the bug in his ear about being a doctor who helped patients use it.

After his last deployment earlier this year, Dr. Bailey had a friend who had suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) on a previous tour in Iraq from 2005 to 2009 who was starting to have serious issues. After doing more research on cannabis for TBI and PTSD they decided to give it a shot. He jumped into writing recommendations shortly after the election and was dismayed by the pricing he was seeing.

“It really frustrated me. The cost of living is not that bad but there is a high poverty level, especially in rural Oklahoma,” Dr. Bailey said. “If cannabis is such a solid medical option, why are we making it so hard to get?”

Dr. Bailey is seeing up to 55 patients a day now. He starts recommendations at $125, veterans, low income, and seriously disabled patients start at $80. In some cases, he doesn’t charge, and he is writing recommendations that last two years, after the first follow-up visit. He says up to 45 percent of his patients are military veterans and he has even had several Veterans Affairs doctors sending their patients to him.

Still, many of the veterans he sees are concerned about losing their coverage for choosing to use cannabis so they opt for the approved treatments; antidepressants, antipsychotics, and tranquilizers.

“A lot of these drugs come with an increased risk of worsening depression. All the problems with them are problems we don’t see with cannabis. It’s a double-edged sword because I really feel that with our current, younger veteran population we are really missing out on a lot of opportunities to treat the issues related to TBIs, PTSD, or neuropathic pain following amputation,” Dr. Bailey said.

Dr. Bailey says another serious concern of his is the opiate epidemic.

“Oklahoma right now is number fifth in opiate prescriptions per capita. I have had about 10 really strong reasons that I got involved in cannabis but one of the big ones is that in my clinical practice in a hospital setting I have admitted thousands of people for opiate-related complications and overdose and I have only admitted one patient for cannabis use and that patient [with hyperemesis] would never die from this use.”

Because of all of Dr. Bailey’s concerns, he has been traveling around to the more rural parts of the state to do pop-up clinics and register more patients.

“The main purpose is just that there is not enough access. I am one of those people who, if someone reached out and says they have no one here, I usually help. I usually try to find a way to help,” he said.

The Path Ahead

The volunteer army is tired, and many are still working overtime trying to combat bad local regulations. Many believe the next step forward is to protect the law in the 2019 legislative session, and secure adult use rights during the 2020 presidential election.

But they all agree that if a constitutional amendment is to go forward in 2020, the newly emerging business community will need to fund the efforts.

“I believe that is the best route to go to protect all of these commercial businesses that are blooming right now, but it would take all of these commercial businesses to step up and to fund a petition so we can truly hire experts to come in here and get it done and not be having to do it off of the backs of patients and volunteers here in Oklahoma,” said Isaac Caviness. “We would be very successful with that and it would be the sledgehammer we need to keep the lawmakers from running amok with the regulations.”

Shelley Free says that the business community should work to protect its rights, but that as a community she feels the army formed to support SQ 788 will take care of patients.

“If they regulate this to the point where home grow is the only way for patients to have access to their medicine, our community will pull together and get resources for the people in our community who don’t know how or have space available, we will figure things out,” Free said.

What happened in Oklahoma is a lesson advocates around the country should look to when advocating change. By coming together as a community, Oklahomans made the impossible, possible.

“I think Oklahoma is a very unique state because we are the reddest of the red. I would tell the country, if a grassroots organization facing the most restrictive regulations to get any petition put on the ballot if we can do that in the reddest of the red states, it can happen anywhere,” said Ray Jennings. “If Oklahoma can do it, any state can do it.”

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