A sign advertises recreational and medical marijuana outside a dispensary in Colorado.

David Anderson

Board of health votes to require a pharmacist in medical marijuana dispensaries and limits smokable products

Gov. Mary Fallin has 45 days to either sign or disapprove the rules.

  • Jackie Fortier

David Anderson

A sign advertises recreational and medical marijuana outside a dispensary in Colorado.

The Oklahoma State Board of Health on Tuesday approved emergency rules to regulate medical marijuana, which Oklahoma voters approved in June.

The 76 pages regulate the sale, cultivation and transportation of the drug — but the board made two big, last-minute changes.

First, the board added a requirement that only pharmacists can be dispensary managers — people who control and distribute all medical marijuana at a dispensary — despite the agency’s general counsel Julie Ezell telling board members that, in her legal opinion, such a move requires legislative action.

Another exemption, barring the sales of smokable marijuana at a dispensary passed by one vote. Vapable marijuana can be sold at dispensaries under the board-approved rules, while smokable marijuana will only be available for patients who choose to grow their own.

The exclusions mirror recommendations outlined at a press conference yesterday by health leaders and medical associations, including the Oklahoma State Board of Pharmacy. The state board of health did follow its attorney’s recommendation that it lacked the authority to cap the number of dispensary licenses, something the medical associations also sought.

Minnesota and Connecticut both require pharmacists to be present when medical marijuana is dispensed. Other states have restricted dispensed medical marijuana to only non-smokable forms.

During discussion on the amendments before the board vote, health department interim Commissioner Tom Bates said he expects “many of the regulations” to be challenged in court.

Gov. Mary Fallin on June 29 reversed course and declined to call a special legislative session to consider rules and oversight for medical marijuana after voters approved State Question 788, leaving regulation in the hands of officials at the state health department.

Gov. Fallin has 45 days to either sign or disapprove the rules.