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Medical marijuana applications go up Thursday, and some patients can't wait

Oklahoma City — Oklahomans who want to use marijuana for medical conditions can start the process Thursday, and for Cody Barlow, it can't come soon enough.

Barlow, a Navy veteran who lives in Holbert, said he takes more than 20 pills each day to deal with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, depression and other mental health conditions. The pills mostly leave him numb, so he decided to visit Colorado and try marijuana at a friend's urging, despite having been told it was “the devil's lettuce,” he said.

Barlow said his racing thoughts slowed and his mood lifted when he tried using marijuana. It was the most normal he had felt in some time, he said at a news conference with the Oklahoma Cannabis League on Wednesday, and he wants to be able to feel that way in his home state.

“It's frustrating to continue taking all these pills while waiting for the state,” he said.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health confirmed that applications for licenses to use, grow, or sell medical marijuana will be available for download Thursday morning on the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority's website,

Applicants can start submitting their paperwork on Aug. 25. Marijuana takes several months to reach maturity, so many patients likely won't have a legal supply until early next year.

While the application process appears to be on schedule so far, Barlow and other league members expressed mistrust that the state will implement State Question 788, which legalized medical marijuana, in the way they envisioned. Most of the league members were part of the Yes on 788 political action committee.

Shawn Jenkins, one of the league's members, said regulations from the state Board of Health have done more to obstruct the implementation of SQ 788 than to aid it. He specifically took issue with two last-minute amendments the board approved to ban the sale of smokable marijuana and to require dispensaries to hire pharmacists, as well as a limit on the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive chemical in medical marijuana products.

“We have people who are supposed to be trustworthy, who completely disregarded the spirit of the people” who voted for SQ 788, Jenkins said.

The future of medical marijuana in Oklahoma remains in flux. A legislative joint committee had its first meeting Wednesday to discuss SQ 788 implementation, and the Board of Health will meet next week to discuss a letter from the attorney general's office stating the board may have overstepped its authority to regulate medical marijuana. Two lawsuits are pending, and trade group New Health Solutions Oklahoma has offered its own bill to regulate the market. Jenkins said the cannabis league is trying to prevent patients' interests from being lost in the debate.

“I'm here to ensure their best interests are not swept under the rug by bureaucrats, elected officials or trade organizations that may be jaundiced by greed,” he said.

Bud Scott, executive director of New Health Solutions Oklahoma, said he doesn't see the interests of patient groups and businesses as in conflict.

“Our goal is to provide safe, affordable, and timely access to this form of medicine to patients across Oklahoma. We believe this is a common goal that we all share. We look forward to everyone being involved in a transparent process to implement SQ788,” he said in an emailed statement.

Meg Wingerter

Meg Wingerter has covered health at The Oklahoman since July 2017. Previously, she lived in Topeka, Kansas, and worked at Kansas News Service and The Topeka Capital-Journal, where she earned awards for business coverage. She graduated from... Read more ›