By Scott Fetgatter
State Rep. Dist. 16
scott fetgatterTwo years ago, I was in the middle of my first campaign to represent District 16 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. At the time, the only thing I wanted to talk about was bringing jobs back to rural Oklahoma. That mission still keeps me up at night and wakes me up in the morning, and we have certainly made progress in that area through smart legislation. That being said, if you would have told me two years ago that I would be spending the summer of 2018 researching and learning about marijuana, I might have laughed at you, but here we are.
Last week, I was appointed to a medical marijuana working group comprised of eight members of the House of Representatives and five members of the Senate. Members were chosen by the Speaker of the House and the Senate Pro Tempore. The working group was created after the Oklahoma Health Department, in my opinion, exceeded their authority and implemented unnecessary regulation to State Question 788. I consider it an honor to be chosen among my peers for such an important endeavor, and I appreciate the Speaker’s trust in my ability to work with legislators from both sides of the isle to bring safe, comprehensive medical marijuana policy to Oklahoma.
I voted against State Question 788. I do support medical marijuana, and at the least, I am happy that State Question 788 has pushed the state to focus on this issue. Personally, I would have liked to have seen a more structured proposal. However, more important to me than my vote is the will of the people. After the elections in June, it is clear that my view on State Question 788 is in the minority. This issue went through a petition process and then a ballot process and was overwhelmingly supported by the Oklahoma electorate. I want to be clear, this working group was not formed to limit or reverse the will of the people but to uphold it.
On Wednesday, the working group had its first meeting. We heard from four different pro-medical marijuana groups. For two and a half hours, they presented testimony about the benefits of medical marijuana and ideas and critiques regarding legislation and regulations. Their presentations were informative and appreciated. These meetings will continue on Wednesdays until the working group feels it has enough information to make a recommendation to the legislature on how to proceed. They are public meetings, and they can be watched online at I will post meeting notices on my social media pages as they are available.
I started this column talking about my mission to bring more jobs back to rural Oklahoma. As I work on this committee, one of my goals is to ensure that “big marijuana” does not monopolize this industry in Oklahoma. If we are going to do this, and we are, it needs to be done in a way that Oklahomans across the state can have opportunities for meaningful employment and entrepreneurship. This is an entirely new industry coming to our state, and I am going to fight as hard as I can to ensure that it isn’t taken over by out-of-state interests and large corporations. We have enough of that as it is.
As always, I consider it a great joy in life to serve you in the Oklahoma Legislature. If you have questions, concerns or feedback, please reach out to my office at (405)557-7373.