TULSA WORLD: Candidates Answer Questions About Marijuana Legalization - Drew Edmondson for Governor TULSA WORLD: Candidates Answer Questions About Marijuana Legalization - Drew Edmondson for Governor

TULSA WORLD: Candidates Answer Questions About Marijuana Legalization

This is the first question in our series. Read all the questions and answers at the Tulsa World’s home for all of its election coverage: tulsaworld.com/election2018.

The question: What are your views on legalization and/or decriminalization of marijuana?

Republicans

Chris Barnett: I am 100 percent for full legalization of marijuana.  If elected as governor, if I am able to, I would commute the sentences of all nonviolent offenders both drug related and non drug related and issue pardons and empty our prisons.

Mick Cornett: One of the strengths of Oklahomans is their willingness to help people, and I think the growing openness to medical marijuana is probably because of that. Regarding SQ 788, though, I would urge people to read the measure carefully. This measure is much broader and more progressive than other states’ medical marijuana laws. I could be in support of a true medical marijuana measure, but this version seems closer to a recreational marijuana measure.

Dan Fisher: I am fully in favor of the “true” medicinal use of marijuana as long as the practice is under strict supervision of physicians. I do not support the legalization of recreational marijuana. I do not support SQ 788. I believe its present wording is problematic in some areas and creates the potential of misuse of marijuana and could even quite possibly serve as the first step to legalizing recreational marijuana.

Barry Gowdy: I support the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana. This is big business, and Oklahoma needs to cash in on it. This will also free up much-needed space in the department of corrections. Instead of building two new prisons, we can rehabilitate and train offenders and get them back to work. This will save so much funding within itself.

Gary Jones: I believe medical marijuana would be helpful, but I do not agree with recreational use. Many laws passed such as 780 and 781 have dealt with this issue by reducing penalties.

Todd Lamb: I oppose the legalization of recreational marijuana, and I oppose SQ 788, as it is poorly written and will create a host of societal problems. If a physician believes medical cannabis can be effective for their patient(s), I could support their right to prescribe it within the scope of proper regulation and the physician/patient relationship, however that is not what SQ 788 does. If passed, SQ 788 will be among the most liberal medicinal marijuana laws in America, alter employee-employer relationships, place onerous burdens on municipalities and would task an already troubled Oklahoma State Department of Health with regulating it.

Gary Richardson: I support the option of prescribed marijuana for medical purposes, but that, unfortunately, is not what State Question 788 does. 788 is really just a half-step short of full recreational legalization. In almost every other state where it is allowed, medical marijuana has clearly defined parameters for treatment. This state question allows a two-year medical marijuana prescription for any condition. 788 sets limits on the quantity of possession, but any county or municipality has license to increase that to whatever amount they want. That’s a lot more liberal than most voters realize.

Blake Cowboy Stevens: We need to meet the practical needs of our people, including patients whose suffering would be greatly lessened by access to medical marijuana. Oklahoma citizens shouldn’t be required to leave the state in order to get this kind of assistance, adding unnecessary travel expenses to an already long list of burdens. Although I don’t support recreational marijuana, I do support the decriminalization of it. We are currently No. 1 in the nation for incarceration. We have to take appropriate measures now.

Kevin Stitt: I do not believe the government should get in the way of a decision made between a doctor and a patient to treat serious health issues. I would support medical marijuana in these instances. I do not support legalizing recreational marijuana at this time as there are too many unintended consequences that we are seeing play out in other areas of the nation.

Democrats

Drew Edmondson: I supported state questions 780 and 781, which made many simple possession drug charges misdemeanors. I also support State Question 788. Medical marijuana is a proven treatment that will bring relief to many Oklahomans. I believe it is too early for full legalization in Oklahoma, but we do have the benefit of observing the long-term effects in Colorado and other states.

Connie Johnson: I support both. I believe Oklahoma is at a crossroads in which a bold reversal of our present policies on cannabis will mean better health and more money for our state. Our present policies criminalize veterans with PTSD who are committing suicide at the rate of 22 a day nationally, and other Oklahomans who are dealing with diseases and conditions for which research shows that medical cannabis is effective, including ending opioid addiction. Passage of cannabis policy reform, beginning with SQ 788, represents a bold, brighter future in which Oklahoma can assume its right position as a leader in the 21st-century economy.

Libertarians

Rex Lawhorn: Legalization is the only moral choice.  Too many people are suffering for the lack of a plant with over 30 medical conditions that it effectively treats, too many families are being destroyed over a plant that grows wild in Oklahoma and the state is putting child rapists back out on the street because of a misguided quest for state-enforced morality.  We need to get our priorities back in line, stop jailing people we’re mad at and start keeping people in prison that we’re afraid of.

Joe “Exotic” Maldonado: Marijuana should be decriminalized and legalized immediately. Prohibition didn’t work for alcohol, and it is not working with marijuana.

Chris Powell: Anyone who wants marijuana now can get it. The fact that it’s illegal prevents many who need to use cannabis for medical purposes from doing so, while absolutely failing to stop anyone who wants to use it recreationally, not to mention soaking up funding and resources for prosecution and incarceration that could instead be put to beneficial use.  Oklahoma needs to pass SQ 788 and then we need to go from there to continue to remove legal restrictions on cannabis and hemp altogether. This would be good for industry, good for the economy and good for individual liberty, but bad for those who want to use government power to restrict the choices of others.