The Future of Medical Marijuana in Oklahoma

State Question 788, which legalized medical marijuana, received more than 500,000 yes votes in Oklahoma, making it the 30th state in the union. 

SQ 788 instructed the Department of Health to publish regulations guiding the statute’s application. On July 31, Governor Fallin signed new emergency regulations following a flurry of controversy and a rewrite compelled by Attorney General Mike Hunter. 

But the regulatory process is not yet finished. The emergency rules implement SQ 788’s language.

However, because SQ 788 did not give the Health Department explicit permission to make rules, there are still some questions about patient licensing procedures, adjustments to law enforcement tactics, and laboratory testing of marijuana products. 

To close those loopholes, Governor Fallin gave the Medical Marijuana Oklahoma Working Collection, a bipartisan group of lawmakers, the task of compiling data on the law’s shortcomings and developing ideas for consideration during the 2019 legislative session. 

Lawmakers prefer a more “hands-off” approach to medicinal marijuana regulations based on the Medical Marijuana Working Group’s initial statements. 

With what supporters have referred to as one of the least restrictive and most “patient-centered” medical marijuana ballot measures in the country, the working group is attempting to strike a balance between the worries of law enforcement and public health officials. 

In 2019, the next legislature will consider proposals to change and fill in regulations.

How Oklahoma’s marijuana laws work 

On Saturday, August 25, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority started awarding licenses to patients, caregivers, and companies. 

The government said that on the first day, more than 1,600 license applications were submitted, and more than $1.5 million in fees were received. 

Those with a license may have up to three ounces of marijuana on them at all times, eight ounces at home, six mature plants, six plants, an ounce of concentrated marijuana, and 72 ounces of consumables.

 In contrast, Colorado only permits the possession of one ounce of marijuana for recreational or medical use. Several states, including Louisiana and West Virginia, permit the sale of medical marijuana products but forbid the smoking of any marijuana.

Additionally, there aren’t many rules governing the cultivation, processing, and retail of marijuana. 

A business license applicant must be at least 25 years old, and its board of directors and managers must reside in Oklahoma. A commercial license application costs only $2,500, which is comparatively slight. 

In contrast, several other jurisdictions have strict caps on both the capital requirements and the total number of marijuana company licenses. 

For instance, Oregon has ceased processing new cultivation license applications because of worries about market saturation, and Arkansas currently only issues licenses to applicants who have at least $1 million in assets.

The procedure in Oklahoma is intended to be more inclusive. Making the new industry readily accessible to nearby small business owners was one of the objectives of SQ 788, according to the activists who created the legislation. 

Sen. Greg McCartney and Rep. Jon Echols, co-chairs of the Medical Marijuana Working Group, have expressed a willingness to support an open market supported by Oklahoma capital investment and available to diverse local entrepreneurs.