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Health officials want courts to clarify medical marijuana law

 The Journal Record | August 6, 2019

OKLAHOMA CITY – Agencies that oversee Oklahoma’s medical marijuana industry have adopted a wait-and-see approach to a new law that has sparked controversy.

One provision in the law, set to take effect later this month after passage of Senate Bill 1030 last spring, calls for the Oklahoma State Department of Health to make medical marijuana user license information available to law enforcement agencies through the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Telecommunications System. With its Aug. 29 implementation date drawing near, concerns have been raised about how the new law might violate the privacy of medical marijuana users. On Tuesday afternoon, the Oklahoma State Department of Health and Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority announced they would welcome legal clarification on the matter.

“The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) and the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) are aware of potential discrepancies in the language of SB1030. The agency welcomes the opportunity to receive direction from the court on this issue,” an OSDH statement said. “It is also important to emphasize that no patient data has been shared with any agency or the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Telecommunications System, and no information will be shared until the court has decided this question.”

The law was among topics discussed Tuesday at a meeting of the recently formed Oklahoma Cannabis Liberty Alliance, which advocates for the rights of medical marijuana patients and has identified the new law as a prime target for legislative change.

“Unless the OMMA is stopped, they will be sending law enforcement the patient database, whereby officers can run your tag or driver’s license and immediately see that you are a (medical marijuana) patient licensee,” the Alliance posted on its website. “Because of existing DUI law, that would give them cause to pull you over for a field sobriety test.”

House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, said the intent of SB 1030 was for officers to have a way to verify the validity of patient IDs in person upon viewing a patient’s 24-digit ID code. He said he believed the current wording was “very confusing” and in an interview with the Tulsa World said he asked the OMMA and Oklahoma Department of Public Safety to hold off on establishing any data transfer at least until the next legislative session in February.

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