The general counsel for the Oklahoma State Department of Health abruptly left her post Friday and now faces criminal charges of falsely reporting a crime and creating a fictitious email she used to send herself threats. Why? She disagreed with the state's new medical marijuana program.
Julie Ezell submitted her resignation Friday afternoon from the health department, hours after the filing of two lawsuits challenging emergency rules approved by the state Board of Health on July 10.
The Tulsa World obtained an email in which Ezell apologizes for having sent sent the false threats to herself via her health department email address.
Ezell is being charged in Oklahoma County District Court with two felonies and one misdemeanor.
Court records allege that Ezell used a fictitious account created on ProtonMail, an end-to-end encrypted email service, on July 8 to send threatening emails to herself and of creating a false report about being harassed over Oklahoma’s State Question 788, regarding medical marijuana.
Health Department spokesman Tony Sellars said Tuesday afternoon that the agency would not comment on Ezell's departure nor her strange behavior.
Former Interim Health Commissioner Preston Doerflinger, who abruptly resigned in February amid reports about his involvement in a domestic violence incident with his now ex-wife, hired Ezell as general counsel in November.
The letter Bates sent to Hunter requesting advice did not disclose that Ezell had left the agency but conceded there was "a conflict" because Ezell advised the health board against adopting last-minute amendments to proposed emergency rules.
The board, in a 5-4 vote, agreed to approve a ban on the sale of smokable marijuana, provoking a widespread bipartisan outrage. Notably, Republican Party groups joined the fight against restrictions added by regulators to the state’s new MMJ program, approved on June 26 by a margin of 57-43 percent.
In an 8-1 vote, the board also voted to require that pharmacists must be on-site at dispensaries during operating hours.
Sounds like someone needs to calm down. Medical cannabis anyone?