How states and the Federal government treat marijuana possession depends on which category of legalization, if any, the state government recognizes. The following are general categories of how different states and Federal law enforcement view marijuana possession:
- Legalization for recreational use. A handful of states (Colorado, Alaska, Washington and Oregon) and the District of Columbia have legalized the possession of marijuana for personal use.
- Medical marijuana. Most states now recognize the legitimacy of some canniboid substances for medical treatment purposes (Oklahoma falls into this category, which we will address in more detail below).
- No legal possession. A few states and the Federal government do not recognize a legal right to possess marijuana, even for medicinal purposes, although there has been confusion about the Federal position because of its lax or even non-enforcement of its own drug laws when it comes to conflicts with state laws that permit some form of possession.
Where does Oklahoma stand?
Generally speaking, in Oklahoma the possession of marijuana is a crime punishable as a misdemeanor for the first offense (up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000) and as a felony for any conviction beyond the first (from two to ten years incarceration and a fine of up to $5,000). First-offense penalties can double for those convicted of possessing or selling marijuana in the presence of a minor, or within 1,000 feet of educational institutions, recreational centers and public parks, with a requirement to serve at least half of the sentence; subsequent convictions in this special category can result in up to a tripling of the penalties, and a requirement to serve 90 percent of the prison sentence.
What about medical marijuana possession?
It has only been recently that Oklahoma has recognized a right to legally possess part of the active ingredients of marijuana for medical treatment purposes (known colloquially as “Katie and Cayman’s Law”), and its exception to the general illegality of marijuana possession is narrowly-drawn:
- Possession of marijuana in its full form is not covered under the law. Only the use of what might be called “low-potency” cannabidiol is permitted; and
- The only people permitted to use cannabidiol for medical purposes are minor children who suffer from severe seizure conditions, such as epilepsy.
A potential problem with Oklahoma’s medical marijuana law is that it does not include a mechanism to legally purchase cannabidiol in the state; and other states that allow for purchase of medical marijuana typically restrict that authorization to residents of that state.
Advocates of medical marijuana have tried to broaden the scope of the state’s law, but efforts to accomplish this in the state legislature have been slow and attempts to put medical marijuana before the voters have failed for lack of gaining the required signatures to put them on the ballot.
So what does this mean to me?
Unless you are a child who qualifies under the state’s current medical marijuana law, or perhaps a parent or guardian of such a child, possession of marijuana in Oklahoma remains punishable under both state and Federal law. Efforts continue in the legislature to make medical marijuana more available to more types of potential beneficiaries, though, so the issue bears watching to see if the current state of affairs will change in the near future. If you have any doubts or questions about the possession or use of marijuana or any other controlled substance in this state, you can always address them to an attorney who practices in criminal defense matters to make sure that you do not run afoul of the stiff sanctions that can result from misunderstanding how the state’s drug laws work. For further information, contact the Hunsucker Legal Group at 405-231-5600.