Capitol update: Opioids and medical marijuana legislation advances

Posted on: 3/29/19


Below is a recap and status update of state legislation on the prescribing of opioids and issues surrounding medical marijuana as it relates to workplace safety and other issues.

Opioids: The Oklahoma Senate has passed SB 848, Radar/Echols. This bill is an attempt to modify SB 1446 from the 2018 legislative session, which established prescription pill counts of seven days for Schedule II and all opioid drugs. During the interim, OHA worked with OSMA, OOA and others to craft an emergency rule at the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs that would allow, under federal and state law, the prescribing after a major surgical procedure or a homebound person a seven-day prescription upon discharge plus a “do not fill until” second seven-day prescription. In SB 848, we are placing into statute the OBNDD emergency rule and cleaning up other provisions from SB 1446.

A large group of health care licensees met in March with the state attorney general to work on proposed language for SB 848. There is agreement that the law needs to clarify that only Schedule II and Tramadol are subject to the 7 + 7 pill count. The education on opioids for all the physician licensure boards is addressed beyond just the allopathic physicians. We are also addressing the vague language for pain management clinics regarding assessments being made every three months instead of being made monthly. The pharmacist being allowed to not fill a prescription is addressed in the new language of SB 848. However, if the prescription for an opioid is filled by the pharmacist, it must be for the amount indicated, not a lesser amount.

Marijuana provisions: The Oklahoma Senate passed HB 2612, known as the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana and Patient Protection Act, or the Unity Bill, and it was signed by the governor March 14. HB 2612 was a bipartisan effort to implement State Question 788 as it was passed by voters in June. The most important aspect for hospitals as employers is that HB 2612 restores the protections for employers to be able to drug test pre-employment and during employment for safety sensitive positions such as direct health care and direct child care. OHA worked in a coalition of health care and business groups to address concerns such as the ability of the employer to drug test employees. HB 2612 does not go into effect until mid-August, so the employer protections are not immediately available.

SB 305
, Daniels/T. West, is a stand-alone bill dealing with medical marijuana and only the workplace safety protections. Just like HB 2612, SB 305 restores the protections to employers to be able to drug test pre-employment and during employment for safety sensitive positions such as direct health care and direct child care. SB 305 goes further than HB 2612 by defining what is considered “under the influence” for employees on the job.

In addition to SB 305, Sen. Greg McCortney and a few other senators have authored almost 20 other bills impacting medical marijuana in statute and many of them address concerns of the medical coalition. One such bill, SB 767 would regulate the use of medical marijuana to define the writing of the recommendation of the physician as being a face-to-face encounter.  Another bill, HB 2613, would add podiatrists to the list of physicians who are able to write a recommendation for medical marijuana. OHA is tracking all medical marijuana legislation. Please contact Sandra Harrison for more information or any questions, sharrison@okoha.com.

Medical marijuana statistics: As of March 18, 68,578 patient, 495 caregiver, 1,150 dispensary, 2,057 grower and 580 processor licenses were approved by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, for a grand total of 72,860 licenses. (Sandra Harrison)

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