OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Changes are coming for the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority.

In 2018, Oklahoma voters headed to the ballot and approved State Question 788.

Under State Question 788, a person 18 years or older would need to apply for a medical marijuana license with the Oklahoma State Department of Health after receiving a note from their doctor. If approved, the patient would then have to pay $100 to obtain that license.

Since applications became available in August of 2018, officials say thousands of Oklahomans have applied for licenses.

In fact, officials say active patient and commercial licenses in the state have climbed to nearly 400,000.

Since the state question was approved, the sale of medical marijuana and medical marijuana products has generated over $350 million in excise and sales tax revenue for the state.

The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority is the regulatory body over the medical marijuana industry, and has always been a part of the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

Until now.

Gov. Kevin Stitt signed Senate Bill 1543, which makes the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority an independent state agency.

“It’s important that OMMA has the ability to meet the ever-changing needs of Oklahoma’s marijuana industry, and separating the authority as a stand-alone agency will give OMMA the flexibility it needs to effectively lead in all facets, including enforcing the laws set forth by the Legislature and investigating any violations,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City. “I’m glad we were able to get this important change across the finish line, which will benefit all legal medical marijuana patients, businesses across the state and public safety.”

Officials say the OMMA will still continue to oversee the issuance of medical marijuana patient and business licenses and carry out all functions related to the regulation and compliance enforcement of the industry.

“Making OMMA a stand-alone agency is necessary to deal with the complexity of regulation and compliance of the expanding medical marijuana industry,” House Majority Leader Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City added. “This will help us cut down on the black market that threatens the wellbeing of Oklahomans and properly regulate the legitimate businesses approved by voters.”

After Nov. 1, the governor will appoint OMMA’s executive director, who will take over responsibilities that are currently held by OSDH Interim Commissioner of Health Keith Reed.

“Since its inception, OMMA has made great strides in regulating the medical marijuana industry in Oklahoma,” Reed stated. “I have no doubt that they will be able to serve Oklahomans in an even greater capacity as they become a stand-alone agency. We are committed to working with OMMA to ensure a smooth transition that benefits everyone.”

Officials say over the next several months, OMMA will hire new staff members to fill critical roles at the agency.

“At the end of the day, our priority is patient safety,” said OMMA Executive Director Adria Berry. “I believe OMMA operating as an independent agency will ultimately allow us to regulate the industry more efficiently, which will in turn benefit patients.”