Correction: A correction has been made to the district represented by one of the lawmakers.
OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma House of Representatives Republican Caucus addressed the media Monday afternoon stating how they plan to address the ongoing issues within the state’s medical marijuana industry.
“When the citizens of the state of Oklahoma voted for 788, they voted for a legal medical marijuana free market program. The black market is not the free market,” said House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City.
Rep. Echols, referencing the state’s largest ever drug bust that happened on February 22, 2022. More than 150,000 marijuana plants were seized- law enforcement agents estimated the bust to total over $500 million in assets.
“We have seen black market elements competing with legitimate Oklahoma businesses. They are putting our citizens at risk. They’re doing things in an illegal, unethical manner,” said Rep. Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City.
Rep. Echols continued, stating the illegal sales aren’t the only issue.
“We know we have issues with tainted product, and this is the House’s plan to do something about it,” said Rep. Echols.
The House has a series of bills aimed at cleaning up the marijuana industry in the Sooner State, plus a 12 point plan of action that includes the following:
- Making the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority a standalone agency
- A grant program for county sheriff’s departments to fund law enforcement efforts in every county (HB3530)
- Full implementation of a seed to sale system (either via court order or new legislation)
- Provisional licensing requiring pre-license inspections and increased document submission prior to approval (HB3734)
- Tiered grow license fees based on grow size (HB2179)
- Separate licensing for medical marijuana wholesalers (HB3634)
- All medical marijuana businesses to post standardized permit signage at the place of business (HB2025)
- Stringent electrical and water data reporting by marijuana growers (HB4055)
- Annual inspections (HB2024)
- Product packaging standards and maximum beyond use dates (HB3019; HB4288)
- Standardized laboratory testing and equipment (HB4056)
- Marijuana grows to register as environmentally sensitive crop owners with the Agriculture Department (HB3827)
The House Republican Caucus said this medical marijuana policy package is the latest strategy to extinguish illegal growers in Oklahoma.
“If you’re an illegal operator of the state of Oklahoma, your time is up,” said Representative Scott Fetgatter, R-District 16.
Rep. Echols said the House has been working diligently with the Senate and the Governor to work on the medical marijuana policy package.
“Everybody working together, figuring out what we want to do. Now, is there disagreements in individual issues here? We don’t have, you know, full yes on these…” said Rep. Echols. “We strongly believe that by the end of session, you are going to see a group of representatives and senators, they’re going to stand up together and say, ‘here’s what we did for medical marijuana in the state of Oklahoma.’
The OMMA said for the most part, it’s on board with the plan.
“There are small issues and minor issues with policies that will need to be worked out as they move through the process,” said Barrett Brown, the OMMA’s Deputy Chief. “But, as of right now we stand ready to implement whatever the legislature tells us.”
However, Democrats said they wish they could’ve been a part of the conversation.
“Had we been at the table we would have felt less concerns about the accessibility and transparency of the process,” said Rep. Forrest Bennett, D-Oklahoma City. “We need to do a very surgical job of differentiating between these bad actors who had no intention of following any of our laws in the first place and those who are trying to make it in this industry and are confused by the regulations.”
Reps. Rusty Cornwell, R-Vinita, Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, Scott Fetgatter, R-Okmulgee, T.J. Marti, R-Broken Arrow, Kevin McDugle, R-Broken Arrow, John Pfeiffer, R-Orlando, and Jay Steagall, R-Yukon collaborated with other legislators, regulators, industry stakeholders, law enforcement and other experts to develop the medical marijuana policy plan.
Rep. Fetgatter said if all goes to the Republican’s plan, the earliest these policies would be put into action would be sometime in June.