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Marijuana 'Unity Bill' and other new laws to take effect Thursday

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Cannabis strains are available for purchase at an Oklahoma City area dispensary on Thursday, May 30, 2019. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman]
Cannabis strains are available for purchase at an Oklahoma City area dispensary on Thursday, May 30, 2019. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman]

The medical marijuana “Unity Bill” that sets up a basic legal framework for the implementation of State Question 788 will take effect Thursday.

Nearly three dozen other new laws will also take effect this week.

Here's a look at some of the new laws.

'Unity Bill'

Also known as the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana and Patient Protection Act, House Bill 2612 sets up a framework for regulating Oklahoma's medical marijuana industry.

The lengthy bill that was a compromise between legislators and those in the medical marijuana industry sets guidelines for marijuana testing, tax collections, seed-to-sale product tracking, packaging, employment and more.

The new law will:

• Set requirements for testing products for contaminants and THC content.

• Ban employers from penalizing job applicants who are medical cardholders that test positive for marijuana. The law includes exceptions for those applying for “safety-sensitive” jobs or those employees who are found to be under the influence of marijuana while at work.

• Set a reduced application fee of $20 for disabled veterans.

• Require products to be packaged in child-resistant containers.

• Prevent counties from making laws restricting access to medical marijuana.

• Change Oklahoma residency requirements as it pertains to applicants.

• Stipulate state agencies will not be able to “infringe on the right” to purchase or own a firearm.

• Add packaging and labeling requirements, including listing the potency, stipulating the product has been testing for contaminants and banning packaging designs that could appeal to children.

• Create an education facility license for nonprofits to provide education and training on medical marijuana growing, processing and testing.

• Require the implementation of seed-to-sale tracking to follow where medical cannabis has been and where it's going.

• Create a caregiver license that allows caregivers to purchase and deliver products to a cardholder.

• Expand the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority's inspection power.

• Require dispensaries to be located more than 1,000 feet from preschools in addition to other schools.

Several other marijuana laws are slated to become law on Thursday.

A dispute over Senate Bill 1030, which could result in the release of medical marijuana patient license information to Oklahoma law enforcement, has caused the state's attorney general to step in and say that provision of the law won't be enforced until lawmakers can alter the language in the next legislative session.

Short-term medical marijuana license

House Bill 2601 creates a short-term medical marijuana license that’s good for 60 days granted to applicants who meet the same requirements for a two-year license and get a 60-day recommendation from their doctor.

College free speech

Oklahoma’s public colleges and universities will be prohibited from creating “free speech zones” under a new law.

Senate Bill 361 mandates all outdoor areas on college campuses are public forums and open to free speech as opposed to limiting demonstrations, protests or other acts of free speech to specific areas of campus.

Campus administrations will still be able to set reasonable time, place and manner restrictions on free speech activities.

Autonomous vehicles

A new state law will prevent cities and counties from regulating autonomous vehicles.

Senate Bill 365 mandates that state law will supersede any city and county ordinance that "prohibits, restricts or regulates the testing or operation of motor vehicles equipped with driving automation systems."

The new law also codifies definitions for autonomous vehicles, which gives legislators a basis for future autonomous vehicle regulations.

Plastic bag tax

Another bill preempting local control, this one preventing Oklahoma municipalities from imposing fees on single-use plastic and paper bags, will take effect Thursday.

The law that rankled members of Norman’s city council, who were contemplating imposing a 5-cent tax on plastic and paper bags, also prevents all Oklahoma cities and towns from taxing single-use bags and carryout or to-go containers.

Carmen Forman

Carmen Forman covers the state Capitol and governor's office for The Oklahoman. A Norman native and graduate of the University of Oklahoma, she previously covered state politics in Virginia and Arizona before returning to Oklahoma. Read more ›

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