Fake Emails, Felony Charges and Attorney General’s Intervention: A Dramatic 48 Hours in Oklahoma Marijuana Policymaking

In simply 48 hours, Oklahoma’s State Department of Health has been hit with a suggestion to amend its controversial emergency guidelines for medical marijuana and a scandal over felony costs towards its  former basic counsel. What precisely is occurring in the Sooner State?

There’s quite a bit unpack right here. Oklahoma’s Department of Health has been affected by a string a scandals — pointless layoffs, quite a few resignations and firings — since stories of monetary mismanagement first broke in October of 2017, in addition to the displeasure over the emergency marijuana guidelines the company pushed on July 10, 2018.

Let’s break down the previous 48 hours from Wednesday, July 18, 2018.

Former General Counsel to Interim Commissioner: ‘I am so sorry.’

Julia Ezell, the division’s former basic counsel, was charged Tuesday, July 17,  2018, with two felonies and one misdemeanor for allegedly sending threatening emails to herself.

Ezell reported to authorities menacing emails despatched to her government-issued account, then lied to investigators about their origin, in accordance with an affidavit from Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Nicholas Rizzi. In the primary reported e mail,  despatched July Eight, 2018, and titled “marijuana laws,” the author — Ezell herself — claimed the federal government was taking away the general public’s rights and warned her that, “We will watch you.”

Ezell reported the emails to the division’s inner investigators, which have been forwarded to state investigators. On Friday, July 13, 2018, Ezell confessed to writing the threatening emails to herself and resigned from her place because the company’s basic counsel.

Following her resignation, in e mail to Interim Commissioner of Health Tom Bates, she wrote, “I am so sorry.”

Ezell was employed in November 2017 and helped draft the emergency guidelines for medical marijuana that have been authorised on Tuesday, July 10, 2018. According to The Associated Press, Ezell cautioned the board that prohibiting the sale of smokable marijuana and requiring a pharmacist at each dispensary have been past the board’s authorized authority. The board voted 5-Four to approve the ban on smokable, vapable, and edible hashish merchandise, and additionally voted Eight-1 to require dispensaries to have a pharmacist on website, igniting anger from medical marijuana advocates.

In a press release, Ed Blau, Ezell’s lawyer, stated, “These charges do not reflect who she is as a person, nor do they reflect the type of advocate she has been for the people of the state of Oklahoma.”

Attorney General to Interim Commissioner: ‘The Board acted outside of its statutory authority….’

Matters didn’t get any simpler for  Bates, when information broke on Wednesday, July 18, 2018, that Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter despatched suggestions to amend the just lately accredited emergency guidelines for medical hashish. In the letter to Bates, Hunter charged that the well being board went too far:

I’ve since reviewed their authorized evaluation and come to the conclusion that the Board [of Health]acted outdoors of its statutory authority in promulgating a number of guidelines pursuant to [State Question] 788.”

Hunter took particular problem with the board for prohibiting the sale of edible, smokable and vapable hashish merchandise and the mandate  requiring dispensaries to have an on website pharmacist — the identical points that Ezell allegedly cautioned the board to keep away from.

Hunter’s letter took difficulty with the board’s definitions, too:

“Because the ordinary and usual meaning of the term ‘marijuana’ and the phrases ‘consume marijuana’ and ‘use marijuana’ encompasses smoking as well as consuming edible forms of marijuana, such consumption is legal and the Board does not have authority to, by its own invitation, prohibit it.”

Hunter additionally scoffed at requiring “a current licensed pharmacist … on-site at least 40 hours a week” at dispensaries, noting that, “Nothing in the text of SQ 788 expressly or impliedly authorizes this rule.”

Hunter additionally raised considerations concerning the board’s authority to implement restrictions on restricted places, co-locating with different companies, and limiting the quantity of THC in flower or concentrates.

Hunter concluded his letter by recommending the board “reconvene to reconsider the rules promulgated on July 10, 2018, in a manner consistent in this letter.”


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