Oklahoma Senator: Vote No On Medical Marijuana, It's "Harmful" to Families

By Paul Gaita 06/06/18

"No one will convince me that our families will be better if only more parents and grandparents smoke more marijuana," Senator Lankford said in a statement.

U.S. Senator James Lankford
Photo via senate.gov

High Times has reported that U.S. Senator James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) is asking his constituents to vote against a measure that would legalize the medicinal use of marijuana.

Lankford and the conservative religious group Oklahoma Faith Leaders issued a joint statement on May 31 in which they described the measure, State Question 788 (SQ 788)—which would legalize the possession, use and production of cannabis for medical purposes—as "harmful to the social fabric of Oklahoma."

Lankford added that he believed that the measure was actually a ruse by "outside groups that actually want access to recreational marijuana." Oklahomans can voice their opinion on the measure as part of the statewide election on June 26.

The measure is the work of Oklahomans for Health, which led a signature drive to include it on the June 26 ballot. Under SQ 788, no specific medical conditions would be required to qualify for a license, but patients would need a signature from a board-certified physician in order to obtain one. Licenses would also be required to operate a commercial growing operation or processing operation, and would require a fee of $2,500.

Users would be allowed to possess up to three ounces of marijuana on their person and eight ounces in their home; a 7% tax would be levied on sales, with the funds going to substance dependency rehabilitation, education and administrative costs. 

Proponents have said that the measure will benefit patients and reduce costs to taxpayers for enforcement of prohibition. Opponents cite a lack of sufficient restrictions, including where dispensaries can be located and whether employers can test for marijuana use. Senator Lankford's statement took a broader approach in its criticism, suggesting that state residents will become "more drug addicted and distracted" if the measure is passed.

"Most of us have seen first-hand the damage done to families and our communities from recreational marijuana," Lankford wrote. "No one will convince me that our families will be better if only more parents and grandparents smoke more marijuana."

Tulsa World noted that Oklahoma Faith Leaders is directed by Paul Abner, an evangelist who was also a paid "faith-based consultant" for Lankford's Senate campaign in 2014.

According to Federal Election Commission records, Abner, who is also a current Republican candidate for State House District 100 in Oklahoma City, received at least $75,000 from Lankford since 2014.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, Amazon.com and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.