House Minority Leader Steve Kouplen, D-Beggs, issued the following statement in response to Attorney General Mike Hunter’s opinion that the rules implemented by the Oklahoma Health Department’s board are not authorized by state statutes.
“I do agree with the attorney general’s assessment. The House Democratic Caucus has taken a stronger stance against the board’s decision than any elected official in the state. Unlike our counterparts, we feel that a special session is necessary to provide a permanent structure for medical marijuana. Contrary to the governor’s original statement after signing the rules, we believe it will be easier to protect the will of the people and put in place effective oversight during a special session when legislators don’t have to worry about the budget.
“However, if the attorney general believes the board’s actions are not authorized by the law, why did he let the governor sign them in the first place? One of the attorney general’s main jobs is to advise the executive branch on legal issues. Considering the lawyer for the health department at the time literally told the board that the rules would most likely be challenged in court, why didn’t the attorney general advise the governor before she signed them into law?
“After the health department voted the first time, many of my Republican colleagues pointed to the unelected board, due to their lack of accountability, as the problem. Well, you can’t have it both ways. If they really believe this, they should take this issue out of the board’s hands and call a special session so that the decisions made during that special session can be held accountable by the people in November.”