An Oklahoma lawmaker is proposing a new law that would expedite the process for terminally ill patients to obtain a license to use medical marijuana. Under a bill introduced by Republican state Sen. Rob Standridge of Norman, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority would have up to five days to issue medical marijuana identification cards to qualified terminally ill patients.
“I find the areas in which we can really help people with the medical marijuana, and one of those is end of life,” said Standridge.
He said that he believed shortening the time that terminally ill patients waited to receive their identification cards would allow for the more effective use of medical marijuana.
“I’m going to run legislation or have legislation geared up for those that are terminally ill,” he said. “Hospice and those types of scenarios — they can get it expedited.”
Under current state law, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority has up to 14 days to process patient applications for a license. The agency has said that applications are now being processed in an average of about nine days.
“If somebody has six weeks or a few months to live, certainly we ought to get them relief faster,” said Standridge. “I’d like them to get it within five days.”
The senator added that he had not yet determined what documentation would be necessary for patients to qualify for the expedited processing, adding that he would probably leave the details of the plan up to state regulators.
“I would envision requiring that doctor must sign off that this is end of life,” he said.
More Than Five Percent of Oklahomans Are MMJ Patients
Since Oklahoma voters approved the medicinal use of cannabis with the passage of State Question 788 last year, more than 210,000 state residents have been issued medical marijuana identification cards. That figure represents more than five percent of Oklahoma’s population, the highest rate of registered patients in the nation.
To serve all of those patients, a burgeoning medical marijuana industry has exploded into existence. With no caps on licenses in State Question 788 and low barriers to entry, thousands of licenses for medical marijuana producers and dispensaries have already been issued by state regulators. As of the middle of November, the state had issued licenses to 4,931 growers, 1,415 cannabis processors, and 2,168 dispensaries.
According to data from the Oklahoma Tax Commission, sales of medical marijuana during the first ten months of 2019 totaled $258 million. At that pace, sales will top $350 for the full year.