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Oklahoma AG Says Health Board Will Hold Special Meeting to Walk Back Medical Marijuana Rules

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said Thursday he’s received word the state board of health will hold a special meeting to follow his advice on medical marijuana rules.

That will include undoing controversial, last-minute changes that attracted two lawsuits. The board amended proposed Oklahoma State Department of Health rules in order to ban the sale of smokable marijuana and to require pharmacists in dispensaries, which Hunter said they didn’t have authority to do.

"It’s going to be a very difficult case to defend. So, my hope would be that these cases would be mooted after the board reconvenes and addresses the rules consistent with the guidance that our office provided them," Hunter said.

Hunter also determined the board exceeded its authority with restrictions on dispensary locations and operating hours, limits on the amount of THC allowed in marijuana products, and requiring a surety bond for licensing.

Hunter said he had concerns going in about the state health department’s ability to come up with medical marijuana rules.

"There was new leadership there that needed time and space to address the financial issues — mismanagement — and the need for financial reorganization. I thought that the health department was not in a good place in terms of their challenges to be overseeing the implementation of State Question 788," Hunter said.

Hunter said his office was not consulted about the rules until after Gov. Mary Fallin signed them.

While the legislature could modify SQ788 in a special session, Hunter said the working group state House and Senate leaders are setting up is the most responsible way forward.

"Putting it right back in the legislature in the middle of an election year — just to me, as an outside person that used to teach political science — just not sure that that’s a very positive environment," Hunter said.

Proposed medical marijuana regulations stalled during regular session, leading the state health department to tackle rules after SQ788 passed.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.