OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Medical marijuana is one of Oklahoma’s fastest growing industries. Proof of that was CannaCon coming to the Oklahoma City Convention Center on Thursday and Friday. After a presentation by the state, many in attendance left unsatisfied because of unanswered questions about new state regulation.
Many Oklahoma medical marijuana growers have issues with how the Oklahoma State Department of Health and the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority are implementing its seed to sale tracking program. They’ve hired Florida-based company Metrc to do the tracking.
About a month ago, a class action lawsuit put the implementation on hold.
Viridian Legal Services’ Ronald Durbin, the attorney for the case, is representing approximately 10,000 licensed cannabis businesses across Oklahoma. He says the implementation of Metrc would create a monopoly and that the company would earn over $12 million in the first year alone.
Durbin continued airing his issues by saying many businesses already do their own seed-to-sale tracking and this new plan will be costly. He also said public input was never sought for the decision.
“We’re not against Metrc,” he explained. “This has nothing to do with any animosity towards Metrc or any seed to sale tracking company. What this has to do with is the manner in which the state and the OMMA adopted the program and tried to implement it. What they’ve done is they’ve adopted a program that essentially passes all of the costs of the program on to the businesses without any input from the businesses, any guidance to the businesses. It’s giving somebody a test without teaching them what’s going to be on the test. It’s a problem.”
At the conference Friday, OMMA gave a presentation on new compliance efforts and the implementation of the new seed to sale tracking program. Deputy Director of Compliance and Enforcement Taylor Hartin would not discuss the class action lawsuit, to the disappointment of those in attendance.
“I cannot answer questions about Metrc today because there’s pending litigation,” she said from the stage.
Hartin explained to KFOR that regulation is needed to give patients access to safe and consistently made product.
“People produce products that actually hurt people and make them sick instead of helping them,” she said. “I don’t want people smoking pesticides. That should never happen if you’re a patient seeking medical marijuana for treatment. So. regulation is one of the factors that makes that happen. I want people to be able to explore if medical marijuana is right for them by access to consistent products and reliable rules that those product vendors have to follow to ensure that they stay consistent.”
Marijuana grower Jon Wahl of Independence Farms in Ardmore, Okla., agrees with her thinking.
“If Metrc’s not implemented and we don’t get some proper seed to sale tracking all the way from the beginning to the end, then there are no checks and balances,” he said. “There is certainly marijuana sold on the black market. I believe that has to end. In order for that to end we have to have some sort of verifiable metric tracking or seed to sale tracking.”
OMMA plans to hire another 60 to 70 medical marijuana inspectors by the end of the year, on top of the approximately 20 to 25 they already have.
Durbin said a hearing for the case is set for June 29.