Podcast Ep. 44 | Reefer Madness Continues, plus an interview with state auditor Gary Jones
We discuss the bizarre things that happened this week in Oklahoma's medical marijuana saga, and then we speak with State Auditor Gary Jones to learn about the role of that position in our state government. At the end, a surprise edition of Pruitt Watch!
- SQ 788 lawsuits to follow district court path
- Medical marijuana rule changes clearly the result of lobbying effort
- Investigators accuse former health department lawyer of emailing herself threats over medical marijuana
- Ethics Commission And Gov. Fallin Will Square Off In Court Over Funding
- Oklahoma Women Find Common Ground In Unease With Political Parties And Education Issues
- With Low Turnout, Should Oklahoma Kill the Primary Runoff?
- Let's start with our ongoing timeline of events related to SQ788, as we now know them:
- June 26: The measure passed with 57% of the vote. Subsequently, the State Board of Health published and began accepting public comments on a set of proposed rules to guide the medical marijuana industry.
- July 7: Julie Ezell, general counsel for the State Department of Health, has a text message conversation with Chelsea Church, who is the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Board of Pharmacy, in which it appears that Church offered Ezell a higher-paying job at the Board of Pharmacy if Ezell would recommend a rule that all medical marijuana dispensaries must be managed by an in-house pharmacist. (The public would not learn of these messages until July 19th.)
- July 8: Julie Ezell creates an email account made to look like a pro-medical marijuana activist and begins emailing fake threats to herself.
- July 10: Board of Health meeting, passes previously-discussed rules along with two additional, previously unannounced rules: (1) ban smokable marijuana and (2) require a pharmacist to be on-site at every dispensary. Both of these motions passed on a 5-4 vote. During the meeting, Ezell told the board that she did not believe those rules were legal and advised against passage.
- July 11: Governor Fallin approved the rules as they were passed.
- July 12: Speaker McCall and Pro Tem Treat issued joint statement saying they would establish a "working group" of legislators next month to look at the issues. House Democrats call for special session to address the issues.
- July 13: Two lawsuits filed against the Governor, legislature, and Board of Health, alleging that the five members of the BoH had a secret meeting prior to the full board meeting, which was in violation of the Open Meeting Act. Julie Ezell resigns as general counsel for OSDH, but that is not made public until July 17th.
- July 16: Attorney General Mike Hunter announces his office will review the rules passed by the Board of Health.
- July 17: It is publicly announced that Julie Ezell resigned. It is also made publicly known that she is charged with two felonies and one misdemeanor related to her fake emails and reporting false threats.
- July 18: Attorney General Mike Hunter advises the Board of Health to amend the rules they passed on July 10th.
- July 19: NonDoc publishes texts messages between Ezell and Church. Senate Democrats call for a special session to address the medical marijuana issue.
- Interview with State Auditor & Inspector Gary Jones:
- Jones shared lots of insights into what the State Auditor does, how his office responds to requests for audits, the state of the state economy, and, of course, the ongoing debacle at the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
- Pruitt Watch - A court has blocked Scott Pruitt's final act as head of the EPA. Still making news, even though after he resigned.