TULSA - The same day Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a reversal of Obama-era guidelines on the enforcement of marijuana laws, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin set a date for a vote on medical marijuana in the state.
While the timing of those developments certainly seems ironic, in truth legal experts don’t think the AG’s announcement will have much impact on the vote, nor on medical marijuana laws in general.
Sanford Coats served as U.S. Attorney in the Western District of Oklahoma from 2009 through 2016.
Now in private practice with the firm Crowe and Dunlevy in Oklahoma City, he spoke at length with KRMG Tuesday to answer questions about the possible ramifications of federal drug policy on State Question 788, the medical marijuana ballot issue in Oklahoma.
He said in his opinion, General Sessions’ policy decision will only affect states which have legalized the recreational use of cannabis.
“I just can’t see, really anywhere, criminalizing or using the federal criminal process to investigate and prosecute doctors or patients who have a valid - in that state - a medical prescription or medical diagnosis or treatment plan that’s been done by a doctor or a physician or a medical professional,” he said. “The real ramifications of this will be in states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use.”
And Oklahoma has no pending ballot initiatives on recreational marijuana.
As for his predictions on SQ788?
“It’s hard to predict what will happen, but the polling I’ve seen seems to be pretty significantly in favor of medical marijuana under the scheme that has been developed, and I think there’s a very good chance that it passes in June.”