OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The efforts to wrangle Oklahoma’s medical marijuana industry is continuing to move forward with the implementation of seed to sale, a tracking system officials said will help regulators quickly spot suspicious activity and eliminate black market distribution, while ensuring that the industry continues to grow properly.
“This was such a huge win for Oklahomans and all of our licensed businesses that work hard to ensure they’re in compliance,” said Adria Berry, who serves as Executive Director for the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA).
“Not having an inventory tracking system in place has without a doubt been the biggest hurdle to regulating the industry and enforcing our laws,” Berry said.
Oklahoma quickly adopted the designation as the largest medical marijuana market in the country, and quickly expanded once the state legalized medical marijuana back in 2018.
The state boasts low barriers to entry, with one of the lowest costs of entry in the nation, according to the state’s Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency (LOFT), an office that assists the Oklahoma House and Senate with data driven initiatives.
The office also recently released a report detailing the state’s rapid growth in the industry, including its barriers and challenges.
The multi-million-dollar industry has become so large across the state, officials now say it’s easier to find a dispensary in Oklahoma than a favorite coffee drink or double cheeseburger at some of the more well-known fast-food eateries.
“For the number of dispensaries in Oklahoma, it’s 56 per 100,000 people to give context,” said LOFT Executive Director Mike Jackson.
“If you add up all the Braum’s, Sonic, McDonald’s, Wal-Mart and Starbucks in Oklahoma, it’s 20 per 100,000 [people],” he added. “There are three times more dispensaries than there are of those five companies together.”
With the implementation of the new tagging system, businesses across the state are on a strict deadline to adhere to the new restraints; anyone with a commercial license has until May 26 to get into compliance.
“It would be great if we had someone to come in to show us exactly how it’s supposed to work, how we’re supposed to set things up and how to make this more efficient,” said AJ Johnson about the training required to get in compliance.
Johnson opened his Happy Root 420 on West Britton Road in North OKC back in 2018, followed by a second location in Paul’s Valley.
While officials are optimistic the system’s tagging systems will finally get the industry into compliance, some small businesses have expressed concerns that the system could favor larger companies.
“In the beginning there was not a lot of hoops to jump through it. It was pretty easy,” he added, noting that regulatory systems like seed to sale are often much easier to implement for big box cannabis retailers. “It’s going to be a bigger cost for the smaller businesses to implement it.”
“It’s a balancing act that we have to perform,” he said, “I just know it’s a requirement and if I want to stay in business, I have to meet that requirement.
“[Complying] is one of those things that we’ve been doing since 2018 and we don’t plan on stopping it.”