Conservative states balk at voter-approved medical marijuana

Conservative states balk at voter-approved medical marijuana

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Pot advocates celebrated the culmination of a yearslong effort to ease restrictions on the use of cannabis last month when nearly 60 percent of Oklahoma voters approved medical marijuana. Oklahoma’s proponents had even included a two-month deadline for the implementation in their measure so as to avoid the years of delays they had seen elsewhere. But that has not stopped state health officials and the Republican governor from making drastic changes . Within weeks of the election, they signed off on tough new restrictions, including a ban on the sale of smokable pot. The change was supported by groups representing doctors, hospitals and pharmacists who opposed medical marijuana, but infuriated supporters of the state question and has already led to lawsuits. "It’s like they snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory," said Chip Paul, who helped write Oklahoma’s medical marijuana state question and push for its approval. "You try to do something the proper way. You follow the rules. And then you win and you get screwed." Latest news by email The afternoon’s latest local news Recaptcha requires verification. I’m not a robot reCAPTCHA Privacy – Terms Even in conservative states such as Oklahoma, which became the 30th in the U.S. to legalize medical marijuana , attitudes are shifting in favor of easing restrictions on pot. But there remains resistance from policymakers, especially in Republican-controlled areas, where the rollout of medical marijuana has frequently been restricted by lawmakers or bogged down in court battles. After more than 70 percent of Florida voters approved medical marijuana in 2016, the Republican-controlled Legislature there imposed a similar ban on smokable pot. A judge last month ruled that such a ban was unconstitutional. In Arkansas, 53 percent of voters approved medical marijuana in 2016, but a legal challenge has delayed the program. […]

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