Story by Hollye Carroll
Photo by Bailey Walker
Oklahomans voted 56 percent in favor of State Question 788 that legalized medical marijuana in Oklahoma and allowed citizens, with a board-certified physician’s signature, to obtain a state-issued medical marijuana license during the primary election June 26. After multiple revisions, on Aug. 6, Gov. Mary Fallin signed the updated version of SQ 788 into law. This barred the need for a board-certified physician on site at each dispensary, prerequisite pregnancy tests for women of childbearing age to obtain a physician’s note and allowing the sale and purchase of smokable marijuana. SQ 788 states that the law will take effect in 30 days and licenses must be available within 90 days. At that point, Oklahoma will join 29 other states who have legalized medical marijuana.
There was an overwhelming amount of support for SQ 788, especially from residents who are currently unable to find treatment in Oklahoma for their chronic pain.
Adam Kreloff, 28, of Oklahoma City has suffered from chronic scoliosis pain since the age of 13. He said his only options are opiates that make him violently ill, making him unable to function in his day-to-day life.
“They make me literally sick to my stomach and the thought of being physically addicted [to opiates] scares me,” Kreloff said. “Honestly, if I’m strung out before age 30, my future looks very bleak.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2017 there were more than 72,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States. Government statistics show that from 2015-2017 overdose deaths were up nearly 50 percent, and an average of 136 deaths per day are from opioid overdoses.
Barbara, who prefers to exclude her last name for privacy, is the co-owner of Bud Hut, Inc. in Walsenburg, Colorado. She has experienced first-hand how marijuana can help those who are currently addicted to opiates.
“We’ve had a ton of clients who have come in and specifically said they want to get off opiates,” she said. “If they’re ready to commit, because it’s not easy, we recommend different strains as well as tinctures and topicals to find out what works for them because each individual is different. Once you find out your own body’s pharmacology, the possibilities are endless.”
Kreloff spoke about his time in Seattle where the so-called budtenders recommended edible, topical and sublingual products that helped with his chronic pain.
“Topical ointments help a lot. The best one is a tincture and I can put a few drops under my tongue or in any drink,” he said. “I put it in my morning coffee and that combined with a 5 mg edible was the most effective thing I’ve ever taken for my pain. It helps more than any pill I’ve taken and I’m actually able to function because I don’t feel high.”
Many opponents of SQ 788 think legalizing medical marijuana will only encourage drug use, particularly among young people. Barbara spoke about how she was surprised by the clientele when they opened their dispensary.
“It’s not college kids smoking pot; they’re not our demographic,” she said. “The ones consuming medically and recreationally are responsible adults. Our average client is well into their 40s and 50s. We treat a lot of terminally ill patients as well.”
There are potential drawbacks to cannabis legalization, according to a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association. In 2016, Colorado saw the average rate of cannabis-related hospital visits among children increase from 1.2 per 100,000 to 2.3 per 100,000. A study published in American Journal for Public Health in 2016 outlined the need for “a robust regulatory and public health framework,” and “Because of the lack of a federal infrastructure for regulating marijuana, state health departments often find themselves in new roles with little resources or support,” so predictive and swift policy must be passed to handle the transition smoothly. Additionally, thorough research on whether cannabis may be used as a replacement for more harmful drugs or as a companion has yet to be conducted. Oklahoma policy makers will be forced to plan ahead or adapt in real time to the new policy.
Story by Kaitlyn Burden
Photo by Julie Archer
Vice President of Student Affairs Lance Newbold gives students a look into his life and experiences as a member of the Rose State family. Newbold started in 2012 in Academic Advisement and was promoted to Vice President of Student Affairs in January 2017.
As a military man, Lt. Col. Newbold served in the US Army from 1992-2007. Before becoming Vice President, he served as the Director of Veteran Services and the Director of Academic Advisement. With this type of background, he is notorious for always being at least 10 minutes early.
He is also active in the President’s Leadership program on campus and is a leadership adviser to many students.
“Lance is the rock of leadership that everyone needs in their life. His passion and drive is also what inspires others,” said Greyson Wolf, leadership student.
Newbold attends numerous events and functions that often keeps him with a busy schedule. The impact he had on students earned him the staff appreciation award at the 2017 Student Life banquet.
“Vice President Newbold is an excellent leader that shows great care with both students and staff. He pushes us to strive for excellence and leads with great passion,” said Student Conduct Officer Erin Logan.
Newbold strives to be a positive example for students.
“The one thing that I hope that I do every day is treat everyone fairly. I think integrity is very important. Dealing with everyone the way I would want them to deal with me,” Newbold said. “A lot of times, students look and think that their professors and college administrators are unapproachable. That’s not the case at Rose State. We are all here because we want to help students.”
While he has a direct impact on students, his co-workers also admire him.
“Vice President Newbold is a very supportive leader. He also trusts that he has good people to their job and so he makes them feel comfortable in being able to do that,” said Alicia McCullar, Director of Student Engagement. “As he has transitioned, it’s so fun for him to embrace change. For instance, when he was first asked to take a selfie, he made a grumpy cat face. Instead of continuing down the grumpy cat lane, he embraced it all.”
As a word of advice, Newbold offered up his insights to being a successful student.
“Go to class. My advice is always Go. To. Class,” he said.
Story & Photo by Bailey Walker
Two years off the heels of the largest prison strike in United States history, inmates and advocacy groups have been organizing under threat of solitary confinement and other penalties. Work stoppages, sit-ins, hunger strikes and boycotts will make up a nationwide prison strike for Aug. 2018 to end what labor advocates call modern slavery. The use of sub-minimum wage labor encourages incarceration to sustain this labor force, advocates say. The prisoner advocacy group Jailhouse Lawyers Speak published a press release outlining demands and tactics for the strike.
“The strike demands were completely developed by prisoners,” said Amani Sawari, organization coordinator. “The organizing network began in South Carolina with Lee County but spread quickly to involve participants all across the country. Prisoners are taking the lead in establishing local demands.”
Sawari explained that prisoners focus on specific issues pertaining to their state, Washingtonians are focused on state divestment, while the Carolinas focus on voting rights. Whatever the main focus, the pushes in each area embody some part of the strike demands.
Sawari believes there is a kind of domino effect that occurs when regions focus on unique problems and win, “Regions are targeted with specifics, a win in one region is a win nationwide because as we begin to see barriers to prisoners involvement in the political process break down regionally we know we’ll see an overall improvement in the way that prisoners are treated and the circumstances of their environment nationwide.”
An air of intersectionality, solidarity between discriminated people, permeates the list of demands; the use of the word “human” over manwoman highlights inclusion of non-binary people who may not be either a man or woman, a focus on “black and brown” people and systemic racism and strengthening rehabilitation services for the neurodivergent (those with atypical neurcognitive function.) This element of inclusion and solidarity has allowed it to garner support among many human rights and leftist groups. This movement derives its core ideal from a desire to raise standard of living for all inmates across the country and one of the fundamental points of friction between the current system and this movement is the practice of what the activists call slavery.
The 13th Amendment was one of the first civil rights overhauls in American history. The measure was to be a means of following through on the Emancipation Proclamation and to act as the foundation of Reconstruction after the socioeconomic ramifications of the war. Both the North and South widely and violently rejected social reconstruction reforms and took advantage of many holes in the coverage of the law. Aside from practices such as redlining, job discrimination and other Jim Crow practices, vagrancy laws worked in tandem with the 13th Amendment.
The amendment reads “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” The nationalization of this practice is a well-known ‘loophole’ written about in many law journals. The state now holds a total, constitutional monopoly over “Slavery [and] involuntary servitude” due to the state being the entity that decides whether a party is “duly convicted” of a crime.
Inmates are demanding improved working conditions and an end to the practice they know as contemporary slavery. Depending on the work program an incarcerated person is in, they can expect to make between 14-63 cents per day. This wage largely includes maintenance work around the facility. If an inmate takes part in programs that partner with private businesses or government agencies that purchase prison-produced products, in other words programs that produce profit, the inmate can make 33 cents to $1.41. Some of the highest earners make around a dollar an hour, and those are inmates who are actively fighting fires in 24-hour shifts in California; when not actively firefighting, they receive $2 per day.
These low wages do not keep rate with what many states have implemented: pay-to-stay policies, which charge inmates a fee for the time they spend in the facility. In 2013, Prison Legal news reported Riverside County, California charges prisoners $142.42 per day in boarding fees. Using an incarcerated California firefighter wage, it would take around six straight days of active wildfire fighting to pay for one day of residence. Though boarding fees are significantly lower than that around the nation, they still more often than not don’t come close to being payable with a prison wage. This gap means most people who leave incarceration are saddled with debt, and if they’re felons, barred from a wide swath of employment as well. Those not leaving with debt have simply outsourced it, as friends and family members are often the ones supporting inmates.
The National Prison Strike runs Aug. 21 to Sept. 9. This labor movement, organized by incarcerated people, for incarcerated people, is by its very nature illegal. Each one of these acts is punishable by at least six months in solitary confinement: “possession of anything not authorized for retention or receipt by the inmate and not issued to [them] through regular channels (smuggling cell phones is integral to organizing, especially on a nationwide scale), refusing to work or to accept a program assignment, unexcused absence from work or any program assignment or failing to perform work as instructed by the supervisor.” Not to mention, the possibility of a litany of “rioting” charges for collective organizing; those of which start at an 18-month minimum isolation period.
Sawari urges organizers to stage protests and events in order to satisfy one goal: “Have everyone’s eyes on their local prison to witness prisoners action during the strike time Aug. 21- Sept. 9.”
For more information or to follow the strike, check out incarceratedworkers.org, sawarimi.org or follow @JailLawSpeak on Twitter.
The 15th Street News is a student publication at Rose State College.