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It’s not quite worth its weight in gold, but there is a cannabis rush in Oklahoma, for both patients and businesses, and there are no signs of slowing down.

The number of active patients has increased by more than 46,000 in the past year, which is a 14% increase from the current total of nearly 376,000 patients, according to a licensing report released by Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) on August 2. means that approximately 9.4% of the state’s population is actively enrolled in the medical cannabis program.

Also in the report, Oklahoma has 469 more licensed companies than at the same time last year, bringing the total assets to 12,598. That list includes 8,625 producers, 2,325 dispensaries and 1,523 processors, in addition to carriers, laboratories and other licensees.

“Oklahoma has one of the largest programs in the country,” the Marijuana Policy Project said in a policy update released May 3. over $ 127 million in national and local taxes on medical cannabis in 2020. ”

After voters approved State Question 788 on legalizing medical cannabis on June 26, 2018, Oklahoma became the fastest state in the country to implement effective medical cannabis law.

Less than two months after passing SQ 788, Oklahoma opened its application process for businesses and patients. OMMA received 366 patient applications and 205 business applications within the first hour of opening of its portal. A total of 23 people were approved for medical cannabis licenses on day one. The first sales started about a month later.

As the state’s program continued to develop under unlimited licenses, the Oklahoma legislature recently passed a bill that would direct the OMMA to conduct on-site compliance inspections with health care providers. medical cannabis, processors and producers license from September 1. The purpose of compliance The directive is to ensure that business licensees are actively operating or working towards operational status, depending on the text of the bill. At the end of a grace period, OMMA may terminate any license if certain standards are not met.

Additionally, the legislation, which Governor Kevin Stitt approved on May 18, also requires medical cannabis companies to complete an ownership certificate – disclosing the existence of any foreign financial interest and the identity of that ownership, if any. applicable – from the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics. and Dangerous Drugs (OBNDD) by August 30. New licensees have 60 days to comply. Failure to do so will result in the loss of OMMA licenses.

To apply for a license in Oklahoma, 75% of the property must be owned by someone who has lived in the state for at least two years; however, illicit operations have emerged through a loophole: companies hire “ghost owners” to obtain licenses. This is one of the reasons why some state lawmakers have drafted new regulations for the industry.

RELATED: Struggles With Illicit Cannabis Operations Affecting Local Producers

The House sponsor for Senate Bill 1033, Republican Representative Scott Fetgatter supported the legislation because it allows the OBNDD and OMMA to make deals to hire more officers, he said. he stated in a press release. The governor approved the bill on May 28.

“In 2018, we bought the ticket and took the tour for medical marijuana in Oklahoma,” Fetgatter said. “There weren’t a lot of regulations and stakeholders on all sides of the issue were looking for a structure. This industry has flourished over the past three years, and we’ve worked to make sure there are structures in place to regulate and help give advice to those who work there. I am proud that this session has allowed us to pass so many important laws that do just that.

Despite illegal operations, Oklahoma collected $ 90.7 million in taxes on medical cannabis in the first seven months of 2021, including $ 12.6 million in July, according to OMMA. At that rate, Oklahoma will exceed $ 155 million in medical cannabis taxes collected this year, a 22% increase from 2020.

While Oklahoma was the 30th state to legalize medical cannabis in 2018, it now has one of the largest programs in the country. And it continues to grow.

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