OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A new bill moving through the state legislature would limit the amount of commercial medical marijuana licenses allowed in Oklahoma for at least the next two years.
Representative Josh West authored HB 2272 and said it’s an effort to slow down a growing criminal element in the state.
“We do have a thriving medical marijuana industry in the state of Oklahoma. At the same time we’ve got a thriving black market industry in the state of Oklahoma, too,” Rep. West said on the House floor last Wednesday.
The law would cap the number of licenses allowed starting September 1, 2021.
He argued organized crime takes advantage of the limited oversight of the industry offered by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority.
“They buy up a bunch of licenses and with no intent of ever operating a legitimate business and they skip from license to license,” West said Monday.
Right now, Oklahoma has more than 10,000 active licenses for dispensaries, growers, and processors, but the bill aims to eventually have no more than 8,000, breaking down to 5,000 growers, 2,000 dispensaries, and 1,000 processors.
Each license would have 18 months to show it’s active, and then maintain its status. For growers, this would mean maintaining at least 50 plants, while dispensaries would need to make at least $5,000 in revenue each month.
“You don’t require the bar to maintain $5,000 worth of revenue in order for them to have their ABL liquor license. What is the difference about cannabis?” said Darrell Carnes of Mary Jane Dispensary in Moore.
He and others argue the bill won’t stop people involved in organized crime from obtaining licenses.
Carnes argues the budding industry should be allowed to continue to stabilize under a free market.
“Just on the enforcement that you’re going to get from the other legislation that you passed,” Carnes said.
West said this is just a necessary part of regulating a statutory state question that was passed.
“It is medicine and so the whole free market conversation, this is still medicine, so I think we have to treat it that way,” West said.
Before the bill passed through the House Wednesday, Rep. Scott Fetgatter added an amendment that would sunset the bill in 2023. By that time, the OMMA is expected to have activated its program tracking marijuana plants from “seed to sale,” which would ideally enforce legitimate marijuana trade and could negate the need for HB 2272.