The opioid epidemic, methamphetamine overdose and marijuana legalization are buzzwords in Oklahoma.
And while some may feel the latter is not like the others on the list, Mark Woodward, with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics (OBN), encourages Oklahomans to educate themselves before they go to the polls on June 26.
OBN will hold a Public Forum on Current Oklahoma Drug Threats at 6 p.m. on May 24 at Canadian Valley Technology Center in Chickasha.
Woodward said he doesn't want to tell anyone how to vote, but he encourages voters to read the full petition.
Woodward said legal authorities have concerns about the amount a person with a Medical Marijuana card would be able to possess.
Card carriers would be allowed to carry three ounces on their person, have eight ounces in their home and have six marijuana plants. This could add up to 6,000 marijuana cigarettes weighing a quarter to a half gram each, Woodward said.
The OBN has studied the results of marijuana legalization in Colorado and California. He said there have been an increase in young users, as young as 12 and 13-year-olds, using marijuana before they hop on the bus to go to school.
Woodward said that while those using marijuana a few decades ago may recall being able to take or leave the weed, the THC concentration in marijuana today is considerably higher.
"I try to tell these parents these kids aren't smoking what you did in high school," he said. "It's a science today rather than a plant in someone's backyard."
Woodward said he is concerned about dependency issues rather than addiction.
"At the very least a dependency becomes a new normal for them, a big reason is because of how strong it is today," he said.
Woodward said for those who want the health benefits of marijuana, CBD oil is a viable and legal option.
Moreover, Woodward said taxes from medical marijuana may not help education in the area of teacher pay. Woodward said Colorado teachers participated in a walkout at their state capitol last week.
The meeting on May 24 will also address methamphetamine and opioid use in Oklahoma.
While meth labs in Oklahoma have been on a decline, crystal meth continues to cross the border from Mexico, Woodward said. Overdoes resulting from opioids remain a problem in the state and around the country. Out of the 9 overdose deaths in Grady County, seven were from opioid abuse excluding heroin, Woodward said.
Woodward said the purpose of the meeting is to help the public understand issues when it comes to drugs in Oklahoma—including prescription drugs.
The meeting will help educate the community on small steps they can take in safeguarding prescription drugs, preventing overdoses as well as signs of drug activity and who to reach out to for help.
The public is invited to attend the meeting and make comments and ask questions.