President Clancy and TU law professor Dr. Bowman held an educational presentation on recent Oklahoma marijuana legislation.
Early Careers in Community Medicine (ECCM), a program that allows highly qualified students to pursue an early provisional acceptance into the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine program, leading to an M.D. degree, hosted a school-wide educational forum located in the Allen Chapman Student Union on Feb. 18. Dr. Clancy, president of the University of Tulsa, spoke out on cannabis’s risks and benefits, as well as the biochemical and pharmacological properties of marijuana and what to do if you or someone you know experiences dangerous side-effects of the drug (psychosis, severe depression, etc).
In June 2018, State Question 788 was approved, allowing controlled use of medical marijuana in the state of Oklahoma. This makes Oklahoma the 30th state to implement a medical marijuana plan. The state’s first medical marijuana plant was sold in September 2018.
Now that marijuana has been legalized in Oklahoma for medical purposes, residents can apply for a medical card. However, most college campuses in Oklahoma, including TU, banned the use of marijuana on campus because the schools are legally under the jurisdiction of the Controlled Substances Act, which defines marijuana as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. If the school were to break these statutes, then it could lose essential funding from the federal government.
Dr. Clancy went into detail about the pros and cons of using marijuana and its many components, saying that “marijuana is complicated and we don’t understand it yet.” Because marijuana prohibition has only recently been getting overturned across the nation, there has not been enough research on the full effects of the drug. As of right now, Israel is the number one country in marijuana research, according to Dr. Clancy.
Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, can treat many medical issues such as muscle pain, migraines and appetite loss, but it can also increase depression and anxiety in some people. Cannabidiol, CBD, is the lesser known of the two main components of the plant and, according to Dr. Clancy, demands further research. The main difference between the components is that CBD is not psychoactive, while THC is. Dr. Clancy added, “I am more pro-CBD than I am pro-THC.”
He ended his part of the presentation by describing the risks of using THC at a young age. According to a 2011 study published in Kuepper, a British medical journal, teenagers who use the drug are “twice as likely to develop psychosis over the next 10 years” and cannot recover from it. It also shows that THC induces a gray matter reduction in the temporal, hippocampus and frontal regions of the brain that can impact decision making and emotions.
Dr. Warigia Bowman of the TU law school then spoke about the legal issues that come with the new legislation and how to operate safely within the law. She warned that although medicinal marijuana is now legal in Oklahoma, “Until it is legal at the federal level and all states have legalized it, there are risks attached.”
If someone in possession of marijuana travels to a state with different laws, they are outside the jurisdiction of Oklahoma’s laws and are at risk of being fined or even imprisoned. At the moment, Oklahoma is not releasing any inmates currently serving time for marijuana possession charges, and has no plans to do so in the near future.
Dr. Bowman added that she supports “legalizing it because [she doesn’t] like putting people in prison for stupid reasons.”
Though it is legal in Oklahoma, no student is allowed to be in possession of marijuana on campus. If a student has a medical card, they are instructed to use it off campus. If they are found with any type of marijuana while on campus, disciplinary actions will be taken.
Dr. Clancy wants the students of TU to be smart about their decisions regarding marijuana and to stay safe, both medically and legally.
Do not operate a vehicle or heavy machinery while under the influence of the drug. “Driving while under the influence of marijuana is still a criminal offence” added Dr. Bowman.