Archive for the ‘Oklahoma’ category

Oklahomans for Health Files Ballot Initiative for Medical Marijuana

April 11th, 2014
Chris Benge, Oklahoma Secretary of State

Chris Benge, Oklahoma Secretary of State

Today, Oklahomans for Health submitted an application for petition with Oklahoma Secretary of State, Chris Benge, which proposes to add a question to the November ballot asking whether or not Oklahomans should legalize medical marijuana for serious conditions like cancer, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.

The initiative would call for the reclassification of marijuana as an herbal drug, which would be regulated by the Oklahoma State Department of Health. It would also create licensing and regulatory rules for cultivation and distribution through dispensaries. Patients wanting to use medical marijuana would need to pay a $125 application fee for a medical marijuana card and have an Oklahoma board-certified physician provide a recommendation.

The proposed initiative comes at a time when support for medical marijuana is growing in the state with a recent poll showing 71% approval rate for decriminalizing medical marijuana. A rally was held at the State Capital in February, where parents of epileptic children came to talk to their representatives. Even Josh Stanley of Strains of Hope, featured on WEEDS by Sanjay Gupta, showed up to support Oklahomans in their plight.

Although Oklahoma has some of the harshest marijuana laws, Chip Paul, Chairman of Oklahomans for Health, believes the “language in this initiative…should be a very easy thing for the state of Oklahoma to manage.”

Oklahomans Support Medical Marijuana Protections

September 26th, 2013

In a recent poll commissioned by the Oklahoma chapter of NORML,oklahoma-SC voters spoke loud and clear in favor of improving marijuana laws in the state, and an overwhelming majority support legal access to medical marijuana. If you live in Oklahoma and you agree it’s time to establish a compassionate and sensible medical marijuana law, tell your legislators today!

Over 71% of voters in the state support allowing seriously ill patients to possess marijuana for medical purposes with a physician’s recommendation, with broad support among both parties. Medical marijuana is a safer alternative to many pharmaceutical medications, which can have harmful side effects and even lead to overdose deaths. Seriously ill patients in the state deserve an option that will not make them criminals just for seeking a safer alternative.

Sen. Constance Johnson has long been a champion of medical marijuana in the state, but her efforts to bring relief to seriously ill patients have been blocked by leadership. If you are an Oklahoma resident, send a clear message to your senator and representative that it’s time to stop frustrating the will of the voters and support a compassionate law for Oklahomans!

Oklahoma Becomes Third State This Year To Approve Unscientific Per Se Limits For Cannabis

June 11th, 2013

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has signed legislation, House Bill 1441, into law that criminalizes drivers from operating a motor vehicle if they have any detectable amount of THC and/or its inactive metabolites in their blood, saliva, or urine. Under such internal possession statutes, known as zero tolerance per se laws, a motorist who tests positive for the presence of such compounds is guilty per se (in fact) of a criminal traffic safety violation, regardless of whether or not there exist supporting evidence that the defendant was behaviorally impaired by such compounds.

Residual, low levels of THC may remain present in the blood of occasional consumers for several hours after past use and for several days in habitual consumers — long after any behavior-inducing effects of the substance have worn off. The inert carboxy-THC metabolite, a commonly screened for byproduct of THC, possesses a longer half-life in blood and also may be present in the urine of daily cannabis consumers for several weeks, or even months, after past use.

Oklahoma will become the 11th state to impose such a strict liability per se standard once the law takes effect on October 1, 2013. It is the third state this year to amend its traffic safety laws to include either per se thresholds or presumptive limits for cannabinoids.

Ten additional states – Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Rhode Island, Utah, and Wisconsin – already impose zero tolerance per se thresholds for the presence of cannabinoids and/or their metabolites.

Five states impose non-zero-tolerant per se thresholds for cannabinoids in blood: Montana (5ng/ml — the new law, HB 168, signed in April, takes effect on October 1, 2013), Pennsylvania (1ng/ml), Ohio (2ng/ml), Nevada (2ng/ml) and Washington (5ng/ml).

Last month, Colorado lawmakers also approved legislation, effective as of July 1, 2013, stating that the presence of THC/blood levels above 5ng/ml “gives rise to permissible inference that the defendant was under the influence.”

However, according to the United States National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA): “It is difficult to establish a relationship between a person’s THC blood or plasma concentration and performance impairing effects. … It is inadvisable to try and predict effects based on blood THC concentrations alone.”

In addition, a 2013 academic review of per se drugged driving laws and their impact on road safety found “no evidence that per se drugged driving laws reduce traffic fatalities.”

NORML argues that it is inadvisable to infer behavioral impairment based on the presence of cannabinoid levels alone — a position that we outline here, here, and in public testimony here.

Oklahoma to Consider Lessening Marijuana Penalties

March 21st, 2013

Cory Williams OK with child

Rep. Cory Williams

Oklahoma has some of the harshest penalties for marijuana possession in the nation. A second offense for possession of any amount of marijuana is a felony punishable by a mandatory minimum of two years imprisonment and a maximum of 10.

Fortunately, legislation awaiting action on the House floor would introduce a dose of sanity. H.B. 1835, sponsored by Rep. Cory Williams (D-34), would make first and second offense possession of marijuana a misdemeanor. Subsequent offenses would remain a felony, but the possible jail time would be reduced to a maximum of five years.

If you live in Oklahoma, please ask your representative to support this sensible reform.

Although this change is modest, it is still a significant improvement over the status quo. It’s a change that makes both common sense and fiscal sense. It would mean fewer adults would be jailed simply for choosing to use a substance less harmful than alcohol. It would also free up prison space for people who commit serious and violent crimes.

Spottedcrow Flies Free

November 30th, 2012


Patricia Spottedcrow, an Oklahoma woman who was sentenced to 12 years for selling $31 worth of pot, with no prior convictions, was released from prison yesterday (Thursday, November 29th), after serving almost two years of her twelve-year sentence.

Her case received significant coverage after the story was featured in 2011 Tulsa World series on why Oklahoma ranks number one for sending more women to prison per capita, than any other state. Grassroots organizers then rallied together to bring attention to this egregious example of our overzealous sentencing for marijuana-related crimes. It worked, outrage spread far and wide.

After several targeted campaigns to local law enforcement and elected officials, as well as an especially strong grassroots effort spearheaded by outraged mothers and reformers, the lobbying paid off.  Officials decided to reconsider her twelve-year sentence.

In July of this year, upon the unanimous recommendation of the Pardon and Parole Board, Gov. Fallin agreed to approve her parole, contingent upon her completion of the community service part of her sentence. Today, Spottedcrow is a free woman that has since been reunited with her family and her three small children.

After spending over two years in prison, Patricia Spottedcrow greets her children when they get home from school. from Tulsa World on Vimeo. (Try this too: http://vimeo.com/54579830#at=0)

The NORML Women’s Alliance was deeply involved with this effort, as well as providing personal support to Patricia Spottedcrow through a formal letter writing campaign. She received an outpouring of support and sent the Alliance a personal thank you letter.

“This is an inspirational reminder that justice still exists.  It proves that with cooperation and determination, grassroots efforts truly can make a significant difference in people’s lives,” said Sabrina Fendrick, Founder and Director of the NORML Women’s Alliance.

Oklahoma Mom Sentenced to 12 Years In Prison For $30 Worth Of Weed May Get Parole!

April 19th, 2012

“A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history” -Gandhi 

Patricia Spottedcrow, a mother and first time offender from Oklahoma, was originally sentenced to 12 years behind bars for selling $30 worth of marijuana. For months, the NORML Women’s Alliance, and other organizations have been bringing attention to one of the most egregious cases of the war on drugs in recent history.  After several outreach campaigns to local law enforcement and elected officials, and especially a strong grassroots effort spearheading my outraged mothers and reformers alike, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board have recommended early parole for Spottedcrow. While this is a small victory in the battle against marijuana prohibition, it is significant in showing that grassroots efforts trult can make a significant difference in the lives of those adversely impacted by the government’s war on drugs.

OKLAHOMA CITY – Grassroots support may evolve into early parole for a Kingfisher mother who was handed a strict prison sentence for a first-time offense of selling $31 worth of marijuana.

After her story was published in the Tulsa World’s series on Women in Prison in 2011, a groundswell of support emerged. In October, a Kingfisher County judge reduced her sentence by four years.

Spottedcrow’s advocates expressed concern for possible racial bias, disparate sentences for drug crimes, Oklahoma’s No. 1 female incarceration rate per capita and the effects on children growing up with incarcerated parents.

Because children were in Spottedcrow’s home when she was arrested, a charge of possession of a dangerous substance in the presence of a minor was added. Her mother, Delita Starr, was also charged with the crime but was given a 30-year suspended sentence so she could care for Spottedcrow’s four children while their mother was incarcerated.

Board member Marc Dreyer, senior pastor at Tulsa’s Memorial Baptist Church, was instrumental in getting Spottedcrow’s case early consideration.

He said he requested to meet Spottedcrow while visiting Eddie Warrior Correctional Center in Taft a few months ago, after reading about her case in the Tulsa World.

“Based on quantity of drugs involved and the desperation of her situation at the time, it was my view that she ought to have consideration by the board for parole, as there were some extenuating circumstances,” Dreyer said. He requested that her case be moved to the board’s April hearing.

Click here for more information.

The NORML Women’s Alliance would like to thank everyone who took the time to make their voice heard against this injustice.  Together, we will prevail. Support the NORML Women’s Alliance with a donation by clicking the link below:

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Oklahoma GOP Kills Legislation To Drug Test Politicians

March 27th, 2012
​​With some of the wack-ass laws emanating from the Oklahoma Legislature recently -- I mean, come on, life in prison for hash? -- you might wonder if those Okie lawmakers are on drugs, or something.Well, you're just gonna have to keep wondering, because the Republican-led Oklahoma Senate has killed legislation that would have required politicians to be drug tested, along with people receiving temporary public assistance, reports Michael Allen at Opposing Views.The Senate Committee on Health and Human Services on Monday passed a bill that would require applicants for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program to undergo a mandatory drug test, reports KSWO-TV, but they stripped out language that would have required they themselves be tested. Continue reading "Oklahoma GOP Kills Legislation To Drug Test Politicians" >

Parole Board Agrees To Early Hearing; Mother Serving 8 Years For Pot

February 16th, 2012
​A young Oklahoma mother of four who is serving an eight-year prison sentence on a first-time marijuana offense -- for selling $31 worth of pot -- has a chance at parole after the parole board unanimously agreed to hear her case early.Patricia Spottedcrow, 26, is scheduled to appear on the Pardon and Parole Board's docket between April 17 and 20 in Oklahoma City, reports Ginnie Graham at Tulsa World. Continue reading "Parole Board Agrees To Early Hearing; Mother Serving 8 Years For Pot" >

Police Say Toilet Plunger Used As Pot Pipe

February 6th, 2012
​Police in Kingfisher County, Oklahoma, made an unusual marijuana bust after pulling over a truck with a broken taillight. They claim the driver was making a pot run that started in California but only made it as far as Kingfisher, and was carrying -- along with a bunch of weed -- a pipe made from a toilet plunger."I got enough that he's going to go away for a long time," a deputy said with unsavory glee, reports Joleen Chaney of KFOR-TV.There was supposedly enough marijuana and associated paraphernalia "to fill an evidence room," including jars of cannabis police claim they seized after making the traffic stop."He was just acting a little bit funny, and my partner said he smelled burnt marijuana in the vehicle, and I told him I smelled green marijuana coming from the vehicle," said Kingfisher County Deputy Eric Richardson. "He said that he did have marijuana in the floorboard." Continue reading "Police Say Toilet Plunger Used As Pot Pipe" >

Mom Of 4 Reflects On First Year In Prison For Marijuana

December 26th, 2011
​​Patricia Spottedcrow, the Oklahoma mom who infamously was given 12 years in prison for selling $31 worth of marijuana, has now served one year of her draconian sentence.One year ago, on the week of Christmas 2010, the first-time offender was thrown into the Eddie Warrior women's prison in Taft, Okla., the first holiday she'd ever spent separated from her four young children, reports Ginnie Graham at the Tulsa World."I cried and cried just thinking of my kids opening presents on Christmas and I wasn't there," she said. "This year, it's going to be any other day. I try not to keep up with the days in here." Continue reading "Mom Of 4 Reflects On First Year In Prison For Marijuana" >