Guymon Daily Herald

Rural Oklahoma will benefit from State Question 82


Iwas born in Henryetta, grew up in Wewoka and went to college in Lawton, so I think it’s fair to say I have deep roots in rural Oklahoma. I’m proud of those roots, and I believe that our rural communitie­s are what make our state special.

In 1990, I was honored to be chosen to represent our community as a City Councilor and, four years later, as a State Representa­tive. Most of my work in the Legislatur­e focused on supporting my constituen­ts in the Seminole County area and making sure we had the resources necessary for good schools, good roads and bridges, and a business environmen­t that was favorable to agricultur­e.

I saw firsthand how our rural communitie­s were struggling. The fact is, many local jobs were moving to larger cities both in and out of state. Many of our young people were moving with those jobs. Despite the investment­s from the State Capitol, small town Main Streets continued to struggle.

As my legislativ­e service drew to a close, my father-in-law injured his back at work. The injury required several surgeries and, of course, they prescribed opioids for the pain. Though I truly enjoyed spending time with my father-in-law, it was gut-wrenching to watch someone I cared deeply about hit a downward spiral.

Then, something of a miracle came along. He found creams, pills and other treatments infused with CBD and THC

(two compounds found in marijuana plants). They were so successful at treating his pain that he went from more than a handful of opioids every day to just one or two for the entire week. It is not an exaggerati­on to say that cannabis helped him escape a potential lifetime addiction

to opioids, saved many of his relationsh­ips, and perhaps saved his life as well.

Watching that developmen­t sparked my interest in medical marijuana, and that interest grew into a passion. Today, I am an owner of Oklahoma Pure. We are a specialize­d cannabis extraction and infusion business. Simply put, we take the marijuana plants grown locally (and legally), extract the THC and CBD, and infuse it into vaporizer carts, waxes and other products.

I love what I do, because I know it makes people happier and healthier. People like my father-in-law take our products to reduce pain. Some cancer patients take our products to help with their appetite, some insomniacs who can finally get a good night of sleep, and people who just use them to relax.

Medical marijuana has been a good thing for this state, but we can make a good thing better by voting “yes” on State Question 820 on March 7. That’s the statewide initiative to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana for use by adults over the age of 21.

Recreation­al marijuana will bring jobs and investment to rural communitie­s. The marijuana industry is labor-intensive and requires a wide range of skilled workers, from accountant­s, growers and attorneys, to processors, insurance agents, retailers and laboratory technician­s. According to research conducted by Whitney Economics, over 400,000 new jobs have been created by states legalizing marijuana. Rural Oklahomans are currently missing out on these employment opportunit­ies.

Passing State Question 820 will also help boost the tourism industry in rural Oklahoma. A study released by one leading cannabis research firm estimated that we will see over $196 million in sales to out-of-state residents. Much of that money will flow into rural Oklahoma.

SQ 820 will also benefit our communitie­s by providing a new and permanent source of tax revenue.

 ?? ?? By Mike Ervin
By Mike Ervin

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