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Medical Marijuana "Unity Bill" Clears First Hurdle in Oklahoma Legislature

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A set of medical marijuana regulations agreed upon by state lawmakers, industry reps and patient groups made it through its first vote in the Oklahoma legislature on Thursday.

The House Rules Committee passed House Bill 2612, dubbed the "Unity Bill," on a 6–0 vote. While it covers issues from licensing to lab testing and from possession to packaging, Rep. Jon Echols said it is purposely a "skinny" bill meant to follow the will of the people.

"The goal is not to fix every issue or to deal with every issue that could possibly come up with the creation of a new industry in the state of Oklahoma. The goal is to create a framework to which we could work off from there," Echols said.

At least one lawmaker worried a requirement to use a seed-to-sale tracking system will hurt mom-and-pop dispensaries. Echols said while things like financial disclosure requirements he found excessive came out, the tracking system had to stay in.

"The goal of seed-to-sale tracking is to avoid diversion and to make collection of taxes more orderly, things of that nature," Echols said.

The Unity Bill will not be the only medical marijuana legislation lawmakers consider this session. Echols plans to file at least four next week to deal with matters the Unity Bill does not.

"Do we need to lower the tax rate? It’s the only medical product that we charge city and state sales tax on, to how are we going to handle disposal? We’re going to need to deal with some of those issues. I think we have some cleanup to deal with in the caregiver act," Echols said.

The Unity Bill does address some controversial issues, including allowing marijuana to be smoked, vaporized or otherwise inhaled wherever tobacco can, and attempting to preserve gun rights for patients.

House and Senate members have filed individual bills addressing sections of the "Unity Bill" in case it is somehow derailed before reaching the governor’s desk.