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July 11, 2014

Medical marijuana petition hits Duncan

DUNCAN — The campaign to legalize medical marijuana in Oklahoma came to Duncan on Thursday.

With little advance notice, Oklahomans for Health, the political action committee pushing the issue, set up a table at the corner of Main and 3rd to gather signatures to place the issue on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Thursday was Day 9 of a 40-day road trip through Oklahoma for the band of medical marijuana proponents led by Samuel Molik, the heavily tattooed volunteer coordinator for the campaign.

Molik said they planned to set up up shop at the Duncan Public Library but were discouraged by the reception, so they resorted to the downtown street corner.

If passersby expressed interest but weren’t registered to vote, they were signed up to become registered voters and told they could sign the pot petition later.

So far, they’ve been to Bartlesville, Ponca City, Stillwater, Enid, Woodward, Sayre, Weatherford and Altus, Molik said.

They’ll head to Chickasha on Friday.

Two other signature-gathering teams will soon be traveling through Oklahoma, said Molik, who predicted the required 156,000 signatures to put the medical marijuana issue on the November ballot will be easily achieved.

“We’re well over 70,000 now and growing exponentially,” he said.

The deadline to submit the petition is Aug. 16.

Those who stopped to sign the petition for the most part were well-versed in the benefits marijuana has on certain ailments. Others, including some felons still on probation and thus unable to vote legally, simply held the opinion that marijuana should be legal whether it’s used for medical reasons or just for recreational enjoyment.

Jennifer Smith, a 36-year-old Duncan nurse who said she is a cancer survivor herself, said her late mother benefitted greatly from marijuana as she suffered through Stage 4 lung cancer and chemotherapy.

“The side effects from prescription drugs are worse than the side effects of marijuana,” she said. “Just a couple little puffs of marijuana and she felt like a million bucks.”

Smith’s husband Walter said marijuana enabled his mother in-law to regain her appetite.

“She was up and moving around. She wasn’t throwing up anymore. How can you say that’s a bad thing?” he said.

Jennifer Smith volunteered to help gather signatures in Duncan for the petition drive.

The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics is encouraging people not to sign the medical marijuana petition, at least until they research both sides of the issue, according to spokesman Mark Woodward.

Woodward has said problems associated with legalized medical marijuana in Colorado have not received the attention they deserve in the media.

The initiative petition in Oklahoma would amend the state constitution to legalize the use, sale and growth of marijuana and require the state Department of Health to issue medical marijuana licenses to allow limited possession if an applicant is an Oklahoma resident 18 or older who has a qualifying medical condition approved by a board-certified physician.

  The qualifying medical conditions defined in the proposed ballot question include cancer, chronic pain, depression, anxiety, PMS symptoms, post traumatic stress disorder, inflammatory bowel disease, urinary incontinence, chronic lower back pain, asthma, Multiple Sclerosis, glaucoma, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease,  Huntington’s chorea, Hepatitis C and severe nausea.

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