Oklahoma's State Question 788 on Medical Marijuana: High on Expectations, Hazy on Details

By Ludlum, Marty; Johnson, Jennifer Barger et al. | Southern Journal of Business and Ethics, January 1, 2018 | Go to article overview

Oklahoma's State Question 788 on Medical Marijuana: High on Expectations, Hazy on Details


Ludlum, Marty, Johnson, Jennifer Barger, Ford, Darrell, Southern Journal of Business and Ethics


"I tried everything else known to man, and none of it works. [Nausea] is what kills people when they 're fighting chemo because you can 7 hold anything down... Without [medical marijuana] I would be dead, no doubt. I've had numerous doctors tell me that. "

- Ray Jennings, throat cancer survivor1

Introduction

Marijuana is a plant that has been on earth and used by humans for at least five millennia.2 The first recorded use of marijuana was 2727 B.C.3 Thus, marijuana is not new. Only the hysteria surrounding the plant is new. Even America's history of pot is muddled. Marijuana has not always been illegal in the United States. In fact, marijuana was legal for the majority of U.S. history to date.4 Marijuana and hemp (same species) were vital crops for the American colonies.5 George Washington grew hemp at Mount Vernon.6 Jamestown settlers used marijuana.7 Early American medical journals described many uses for marijuana.8 In 1850, Marijuana was listed in the Pharmacopoeia, which was a widely regarded reference and authority for medicinal drugs, as a treatment for numerous ailments, including: cholera, rabies, dysentery, tonsillitis, and menstrual bleeding.9 In essence, marijuana was a poor man's pain reliever.10 The American Medical Association fought for marijuana's use in medicine.11 Pharmaceutical giants such as Eli Lilly, and Squibb of Bristol-Myers-Squibb sold marijuana.12

Today, marijuana is the most widely used psychoactive drug in the United States.13 Marijuana is as readily available as alcohol and is more abundant now than prior to Nixon's War on Drugs.14 Public sentiment favors marijuana. According to a 2017 Gallup poll, forty-five (45) percent of all Americans have tried marijuana.15 A clear majority of all Americans support legal marijuana usage.16 According to a 2018 AARP survey, eighty percent of older Americans support medical marijuana usage.17 Three out of every four American physicians support medical marijuana.18 Famously, a sitting New York judge used medical marijuana to alleviate his pain.19

In this article, we will discuss the history of marijuana in America. We will then examine the recent trend of marijuana legalization. Next, we will examine Oklahoma's State Question 788 for what it includes and what it does not. Then we will report on the outcome of Oklahoma's election. To conclude, we will describe several cloudy issues still pending with the outcome of the election.

The Blunt History of Marijuana

After the failed attempt at alcohol prohibition, marijuana was demonized as a loco-weed that drives addicts to murder and commit sex crimes.20 California became the first state to prohibit marijuana usage in 1913.21 California's marijuana prohibition came as an obscure amendment to the state's Poison Law and without media attention.22 By 1930, marijuana was outlawed in 30 of the 48 states.23 States had implemented racially charged anti-marijuana laws.24 Under Richard Nixon, the War on Drugs reached its climax, culminating with the Controlled Substances Act of 1970,25 making marijuana illegal in all states.

Less than a decade later, some states tried small programs of medical marijuana. New Mexico was the first in 1978.26 Thirty states followed New Mexico's lead, but the support was short lived. The FDA approved a synthetic form of marijuana, Marinol, in 1980.27 Since marijuana was available in pill form, the interest in medical pot mellowed.28 Marinol was not a success. The pill is difficult to absorb and regulate, and much more expensive than marijuana.29

Pot is a practical medicine. Marijuana, or Cannabis Sativa30 as it is known in Latin, can be ingested in many ways (smoked, vaped, eaten, liquefied/drank, aerosol, tinctured, topical, suppository, dabbed, and others).31 In its many forms, the drug is relatively inexpensive, and patients could grow their own in their closet and thereby control quality and costs. Most importantly, marijuana is safe when compared to other medications used for similar ailments. …

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