A U.S. senator from a state where polls indicate his constituents will legalize medical marijuana this month is calling cannabis’s therapeutic value into question.
“Marijuana is not used for anyone on chronic pain other than just getting high and to escape from the pain,” Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) said in a Friday interview.
“Marijuana’s not used for pain. It’s used for the high and it’s used for other purposes.”
Oklahoma voters will see a measure to make medical cannabis legal on this month’s June 26 primary ballot. A survey last month found that likely voters favor the initiative by a margin of 58 percent to 30 percent.
But Lankford isn’t on board. And recently he has become one of the only members of the U.S. Senate to consistently voice opposition to marijuana law reform.
Last week, for example, he tried to strip language from a Justice Department bill that protects state medical cannabis laws from federal interference.
But sensing that he did not have enough votes to pass his amendment, he withdrew it before asking colleagues to do on the record with yeas and nays.
At a separate hearing earlier last week, Lankford called marijuana a “gateway drug to opioid abuse.”
In the new interview with KOCO-TV, the anti-cannabis senator questioned whether the Oklahoma ballot measure is truly medically focused.
“It’s not just allowing people to smoke it for medicinal purposes,” he said. “They can have any purpose. They can say, ‘I have a headache.’ They can say, ‘my left toe hurts every other Thursday.’ They can go to a veterinarian, a doctor a chiropractor, any number of medical people of any type. A dentist, whatever it may be, and they can write a script.”
“We have all kinds of issues in Oklahoma right now. We have all kinds of struggles. I don’t see how any of them get better if more parents and more grandparents are smoking more marijuana.”
Lankford also recently appeared in the TV ad opposing the medical marijuana measure.
An opposition group, SQ 788 Is Not Medical, announced last week that it has raised nearly half a million dollars to support an advertising campaign against the measure.
Meanwhile, the state Republican Party in neighboring Texas endorsed marijuana decriminalization, expanding medical cannabis, legalizing industrial hemp and federally reclassifying marijuana at its convention this past weekend.
Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore.