Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

November 14, 2012

Many say pot-smoking should be legal

TAHLEQUAH — As voters across the country registered their opinions on who should occupy the White House, the majority of voters in Colorado and Washington said as far as they’re concerned, it’s OK to inhale.

Marijuana legalization measures, for recreational use, were passed last week in both states.

Medical marijuana is already legal in both states, but private possession or consumption was not, until the Nov. 6 election.

According to Colorado’s Amendment 64, or the Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol Act of 2012, the measure will alter the state constitution to provide for regulation of the Schedule 1 drug.

The new law would permit a person 21 or older to consume or possess limited amounts of marijuana; provide for the licensing of cultivation facilities, product manufacturing facilities, testing facilities, and retail stores; permit local governments to regulate or prohibit such facilities; require the general assembly to enact an excise tax to be levied upon wholesale sales of marijuana; require the first $40 million in revenue raised annually by such tax be credited to the public school capital construction assistance fund; and require the general assembly to enact legislation controlling the development of land for growing, processing and sale of industrial hemp.

Specifically for the voter, Amendment 64 means a private individual who is 21 or older can possess or consume up to an ounce, or 28.5 grams, of marijuana, while cultivation limits allow an individual to possess six plants, with three or fewer being mature, flowering plants.

The premises must be enclosed and locked, and the plants can’t be cultivated openly or publicly or made available for sale. Cultivation remains banned in Washington.

Nothing in the measure, per Amendment 64, is intended to require an employer to permit or accommodate the use or possession of marijuana in the workplace or affect the employer’s ability to restrict the use of marijuana by employees.

In July, Oklahoma Sen. Connie Johnson, D-Forest Park, asked for an interim study into medical marijuana and was granted approval, said Sen. Jim Wilson, D-Tahlequah.

“The chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee, Sen. Brian Crain, declined to have the committee hear the study request as of Oct. 3. On that date, we – I’m a member of that committee – were hearing testimony on the benefits of expanding smokeless tobacco usage,” Wilson said. “You heard right: Sen. Johnson suggested her study for legalizing medical marijuana had just as much merit. The reply from Sen. Crain was she could not produce experts similar to those advocating for smokeless tobacco. Those experts, actual doctors, did research paid for by tobacco companies to support their initiative.”

Neither voters nor the Legislature will take up a measure to legalize medical marijuana in Oklahoma, said Wilson.

“Since federal law still sees marijuana as illegal in all forms, what I predict is the new laws in Colorado and Washington will be tested in the courts and ultimately the Supreme Court will decide if marijuana should be legal or illegal nationally,” he said. “That will take the decision away from Oklahoma, or at least make it a state issue, like liquor sales. Will Rogers said about liquor: ‘Oklahomans vote dry as long as they can stagger to the polls.’ This appears to be similar.”

Rep. Mike Brown, D-Tahlequah, agrees that the likelihood of marijuana’s being legalized in the state is nil.

“I don’t ever see that happening – at least, not in my lifetime,” he said. “It’s just not going to happen because we’re a part of the Bible Belt, and most folks feel it’s wrong. I probably would not support it, but I would support looking at the laws we passed, [possibly] changing some of the statutes that we have on sentencing. Like changing prison time to community sentencing or some other form of punishment, rather than sending them down to Big Mac. We’re overcrowded right now.”

Brown added that marijuana presented in pill form for medical purposes may be accepted by voters, if accompanied by proven benefit.

“That’d be the only way the public here would be satisfied with it, if it’s beneficial in a pill form. That would be the only thing I could see people accepting, but I don’t believe it’ll ever happen in Oklahoma,” he said.

Cherokee County Undersheriff Jason Chennault noted that regardless of voter opinion, marijuana remains a prohibited substance, and he believes it will remain as such.

“I don’t see it happening here. They’re still going to have to deal with the federal law, and it would still be considered illegal,” Chennault said.

“I don’t think [medical marijuana will] ever happen here. This is the Bible Belt and people are not going to go for it. I don’t think it’s as big a problem as the meth problem. Unless it’s a large amount, it’s a misdemeanor here. We don’t see that much marijuana that comes out of traffic stops.”

Marijuana should be decriminalized and legalized nationally and should be regulated and taxed like tobacco and alcohol, said Tony O’seland, who responded to the Daily Press’ Facebook poll on the legalization of pot in the state.

“As a matter of fiscal responsibility, pot should be treated the same way tobacco and alcohol is handled: Franchise it,” he said.

“If the feds would simply utilize some of the existing agencies and expand their purview, it could be grown as a bulk crop, sold on open auction like tobacco, manufactured and packaged like cigarettes and sold through the same distribution centers that handle alcohol. It’s a four-way tax benefit: All of the stages are taxed, and consumption is controlled by the same laws as beverages.”

Shannon Grimes agrees that marijuana “may as well be legal.”

“It’s not like being illegal is stopping its use. The only thing being illegal is doing is empowering the criminal elements that capitalize on the prohibition, creating more crime and violence than otherwise would exist,” he said. “You know, kinda like the mob during alcohol prohibition.”

Billie Walker believes medical marijuana may present a benefit to patients in need, but she does not support easy access.

“Either way, people are going to continue to be stupid. Legal or not, they will find a way to get their smoke, but we don’t have to make it easy for them,” she said. “Smoking pot fries your brain, but if you’re sick or old and sick, I say why not.”

Linda Kay Hobbs Baird agrees medicinal marijuana should be made available to approved patients in Oklahoma.

“I don’t think marijuana should be legalized in Oklahoma, unless people really need it for cancer or really severe pain,” she said.

Leon Briggs pointed to a study ordered by a former president as reason why marijuana should be legalized for medical treatments.

“The public needs to be aware of the Virginia study in 1974 ordered by President [Richard] Nixon,” he said. “In that study, researchers at the Medical College of Virginia, who had been funded by the National Institutes of Health to find evidence that marijuana damages the immune system, found instead that THC slowed the growth of three kinds of cancer in mice – lung, breast cancer and virus-induced leukemia.

The DEA quickly shut down the Virginia study and all further cannabis/tumor research, according to Jack Herer, who reported on the events in his book ‘The Emperor Wears No Clothes.’”

Carolyn Hawley believes legalizing marijuana might provide better ways of controlling the substance.

“I was thinking about reading some time ago about bootleg liquor and how legalizing it helped control it,” she said.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • sr-Sherman-Alexie.jpg Native wit

    Sherman Alexie Jr., self-professed “res” American Indian, dislikes casinos, mascots and Oklahoma for stealing his favorite basketball team.
    Northeastern State University welcomed the celebrated poet, writer and filmmaker to campus Wednesday, and the audience was treated to 90 minutes of witty and unblinking observation from the perspective of an American Indian all-too-familiar with life on a reservation.
    Alexie, named one of the 21st Century’s top 20 writers by The New Yorker, delivered what was essentially a standup monologue to a packed house in the auditorium of the W. Roger Webb Educational Technology Center. Some of Alexie’s best-known works are “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven,” a book of short stories, and the film “Smoke Signals.”

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • rock-jodi.jpg Woman serving time for burning baby seeks judicial review

    A Cherokee County mother sentenced to 17 years in prison for burning her 14-month-old baby with an iron is asking for a judicial review.
    Court records show Jodi Leann Rock, 21, requested a copy of her judgment and sentence, and this week filed an application for a judicial review. Copies of her request have been submitted to a judge and the District Attorney’s Office.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • SR-SchoolCharter.jpg Concerns expressed as SB 573 awaits House vote

    With an Oklahoma Senate bill now awaiting a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives, some parents are voicing concerns about the futures of rural K-8 schools in Cherokee County.
    Senate Bill 573 calls for a commission to establish charter schools throughout the state. A charter school receives taxpayer funding, but functions independently. They can be founded by an array of interests, including teachers, parents, universities and nonprofits. In Oklahoma, tribal entities can establish charter schools.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Man gets suspended sentence for possession

    A 37-year-old Webbers Falls man has been given a suspended sentence on drug-possession charges.
    Dusty Kayl Skaggs was charged with endeavoring to manufacture methamphetamine earlier this year after he and 43-year-old Misty Hayes Paden, of Muskogee, were arrested during execution of a search warrant.

    April 24, 2014

  • sr-NSU-Earth-day.jpg NSU students observe Earth Day

    Students and members of the community converged on Northeastern State University’s Second Century Square on Tuesday to spend an afternoon celebrating Earth Day.
    The event featured tables sponsored by campus organizations, prizes and music by Chris Espinoza. NSU’s Earth Day theme was “Gather Here. Go Green,” and was organized by the Committee for Sustainability and the Northeastern Student Government Association (NSGA).

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • ts-smallholders-courtesy.jpg Rural smallholders host annual show

    More and more, many people are showing growing interest in learning the sources of their food, including meat. As such, interest in farm-to-table living is increasing.
    Saturday, the Rural Smallholders Association held its annual spring show at the Cherokee County Fairgrounds, promoting the farming of sheep and goats, along with giving the general public a sample of their products.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • pitts-hurley.jpg Wanted man nabbed during traffic stop

    Cherokee County sheriff’s deputies arrested a wanted man this week after a traffic stop near South Muskogee and Willis Road.
    Hurley D. Pitts, 40, was being sought by authorities on a motion to revoke a previous sentence.
    Sheriff’s Deputy Jarrick Snyder said he stopped a car after it ran off the road a couple of times. A woman was behind the wheel, and Pitts was sitting in the passenger seat.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • SR-Wikafile.jpg Communiversity Band performs Sunday

    Musicians from on and off the Northeastern State University campus have made their final preparations for an upcoming performance of the NSU Communiversity Band.
    The ensemble performs Sunday, April 27, at 7 p.m., in the NSU Center for the Performing Arts. The conductor is Dr. Norman Wika, associate professor of music and band program director. Guest conductor is student Kameron Parmain. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students and seniors.
    “Everything has come together very well this semester,” Wika said.
    “We have about 40 musicians, and everyone who started the rehearsals has stuck with it. This could be the best Community Band concert yet.”

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Council concerned over reports of land contamination

    Negotiations involving the purchase of nearly 20 homes on 7 acres of land near Basin Avenue hit a snag Monday night when concerns surfaced over potential contamination of the area.
    Tahlequah Mayor Jason Nichols had proposed the city purchase the homes and duplexes as a large step in a greenbelt project, which would establish a solid park and trail system from the downtown area to the site of the city’s old solid waste transfer station.
    Until Monday, details of the negotiations had been mostly discussed behind closed doors, though Nichols confirmed the list price for the property to be $480,000.

    April 23, 2014

  • Council tables cell tower permit apps

    Tahlequah city councilors on Monday opted to hold off on approval of two special-use permit applications that would help AT&T install a couple of 150-foot cell towers within the city.
    Branch Communications is asking for the permits as it attempts to construct two monopole cell towers – one on Commercial Road near Green Country Funeral Home, and another at the Tahlequah Public Schools bus barn on Pendleton Street. Other towers are being built outside of the city limits.
    Members of the city’s planning and zoning board gave their OK for both permits last month.

    April 23, 2014

Poll

How confident are you that the immunizations for infants and children are reasonably safe?

Not at all confident.
Somewhat confident.
Relatively confident.
Extremely confident.
undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Stocks