Oklahoma Lawyer Pleads Guilty to Staging Threats From Irate Cannabis Proponents
One Oklahoma State Department of Health employee appears to have been going through it during the process of drafting the state’s medical marijuana regulation earlier this year. Emails that lawyer Julia Ezell alleged contained dangerous threats from marijuana advocates have been proven to have been sent from her own cell phone. Ezell pled guilty on Wednesday to two misdemeanors for falsifying the threats.
“We will stop YOU and you’re [sic] greed,” went one of the emails. “Any way it takes to end your evil and protect what is ours.”
Ezell was employed by the Department of Health and was fleshing out emergency cannabis regulations this summer in accordance with House Bill 2612, which created Oklahoma’s medical marijuana program. CBS reports that the agency went against Ezell’s legal recommendations, thus voting to approve the prohibition of the sale of smokable marijuana and requiring a pharmacist at every dispensary.
When the agency’s rules were made public, medical cannabis advocates weren’t happy with the harsh restriction and requirement. Two lawsuits were filed against the board.
Emails Appeared Threatening
Ezell reported to department officials that she had received almost a dozen emails that made threats against her life. One read: “We would hate to hurt a pretty lady. You will hear us. We are just beginning.”
Others suggested that she was under surveillance. “You appear distinguished in glasses,” went one of the emails. “Wear them for the camera.” Another email sent the day read in a similar vein: “Julia is home. All alone?” An email from “MaryJameprotonmail.com” described Ezell’s vehicle and included her home address.
The Department of Health got in touch with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, which appears to have made the case a top priority. “The OSBI takes threats to public officials very seriously,” said one of the agency’s special agents Jordan Solorzano. “In this case, nine OSBI agents, three Edmond police officers, and two officers with the [University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center] were assigned to the case, just to assure Miss Ezell’s safety.”
But it appears there was no external threat to her safety. Investigators quickly found that one of the emails in question was sent from Ezell’s very phone to her Department of Health email address, and that the account used was created on the same day. Within a week, an agent approached Ezell with the evidence that had been found, and the lawyer allegedly confessed and resigned from the Department of Health.
The two charges to which Ezell pled guilty this week are associated with falsely reporting a crime and using a computer to do something illegal.
Ezell’s lawyer released a statement upon learning of the charges saying, “Julie Ezell has worked as a loyal and dedicated public servant her entire career as a lawyer. These charges do not reflect who she is as a person, nor do they reflect the type of advocate she has been for the people of the State of Oklahoma.”
A local news site reported that her resignation letter read: “Effectively immediately I resign my position as General Counsel of the Oklahoma State Department of Health. I am so sorry.”