Medical marijuana bill could prove problematic to campus

State Bill 788, if passed, would cause Oklahoma Christian to have to rethink policies on campus. 
Online photo.

State Bill 788, if passed, would cause Oklahoma Christian to have to rethink policies on campus. Online photo.

State Question 778 is one step closer to being featured on a ballot after the Oklahoma Supreme Court restored the original language of the measure. If passed, the measure would legalize the use of medical marijuana in Oklahoma.

According to NewsOK, Oklahomans for Health, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, sued former Attorney General Scott Pruitt in 2016 after he revised the title to mislead voters into thinking the measure was about legalizing recreational marijuana.

“The people of Oklahoma deserve to know exactly what they are voting on and our former attorney general’s rewrite was misleading,” Oklahomans for Health Organizer William Jones said. “I’m very happy that people are going to know what they are voting on now.”

Oklahoma Christian University Chief of Police Greg Giltner said the bill would allow a person with a medical license to possess three ounces of marijuana on their person and eight ounces in their residence.

“It has to allow employers, businesses and schools to allow that person to have it on them, but our campus has a no drug and alcohol policy, so this will change how we look at marijuana on campus,” Giltner said. “If Question 788 passes, campus is going to have to address that because, in my opinion, if we deny a student who has a medical license there could be some problems.”

Vice President and General Counsel Stephen Eck said federal law does not allow the use of marijuana for any reason and Oklahoma Christian has to comply to ensure students will still receive government financial aid.

“If we’re not in compliance with federal law that threatens our Title IV funding,” Eck said. “When the president signs the participation agreement with the federal government and says, ‘Yes, we’re in compliance with federal law,’ it would be risky for OC to have a policy that allows that on campus.”

Eck said Oklahoma Christian administration would have to look at how other private Christian colleges, such as schools in Colorado and Oregon, are handling similar bills.

“The DEA, under President Obama’s administration, had kind of chosen not to enforce federal law,” Eck said. “That is not the approach under the current administration and they are enforcing federal law in regards to marijuana. The university would be in a difficult position, from a federal regulation standpoint, to say we’re going to allow something that violates federal law and yet we’re still going to take your federal money.”

According to Giltner, medical marijuana can help with many illnesses like glaucoma and AIDS, but there are prescribed medications for synthetic marijuana, which provide the same benefits with less risk involved.

“Marijuana is a problem,” Giltner said. “When I say it’s a problem, I mean we’ve always considered it a gateway drug. There’s a reason why it’s illegal. For all the medical reasons why someone argues we need to legalize marijuana, there’s arguments against marijuana, like it being five times more carcinogenic than regular cigarettes. If we legalize marijuana, in my opinion, that’s an open door for people to possess it when they’re really not sick.”

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