What to know about the newest round of Oklahoma medical marijuana legislation
Medical marijuana remained a key focus this week in the Oklahoma State Legislature, with a slew of related bills passing through the House Alcohol, Tobacco and Controlled Substances Committee.
Fifteen marijuana bills were heard in the committee meeting Thursday morning, with many focused on reigning in illegal activity, restructuring the licensing process and regulating marijuana businesses. If adopted, the days of Oklahoma’s “Wild West” of weed may be coming to a close.
Here are some of the marijuana bills that passed committee this week in the Oklahoma State Legislature:
Bolstering the OMMA:
- HB3971– Would implement a secret shopper program in which employees from the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) would purchase marijuana from dispensaries and send it to labs to test for contaminants and potency.
- HB3813– Would designate OMMA inspectors as law enforcement and allow them to aid and assist in enforcement and prosecutions.
- HB4411– Would mandate the OMMA to administer a minimum of one inspection per year for marijuana businesses and licensed facilities.
- HB3208– Would issue a moratorium on business licensing for either two years or until the OMMA can complete all pending license reviews, inspections and investigations.
- HB4055– Would require public utility companies to submit monthly reports to the OMMA of how much water, electricity and/or other public utilities are being used by commercial growers.
Restructuring the licensure process:
- HB3634– Would create a wholesaler tier of licensing to deal with sales and distribution channels of marijuana.
- HB3734– Would require new marijuana businesses to purchase temporary conditional licenses before being issued an annual business license. To obtain a temporary license, business owners would need to disclose all relevant financial information, all sources for utility usage and evidence of insurance.
- HB3891– Would add new grow and processing facilities to the list of businesses that must be at least 1,000 feet from a school property line, including pre-kindergarten and vocational technology schools, as well as property used for school athletics like stadiums and ballparks.
Regulating marijuana businesses:
- HB4287– Requires processors and growers to sell marijuana only in pre-packaged form, in package sizes ranging from an eighth of an ounce to an ounce. Displaying marijuana and smelling would still be allowed, but “deli-style” sales would no longer be allowed.
- HB3752– Would make it illegal for a grow property owner to abandon the property without first restoring the land to its original condition.
- HB2025– Would require all marijuana businesses and facilities to display their OMMA-issued license in a conspicuous place.
- HB3827– Would require all medical marijuana commercial grower licensees with an outdoor production facility to register with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry as an environmentally sensitive crop owner. Registration would provide notice to nearby pesticide applicators, with the goal of minimizing pesticide drift.
Other bills to watch during this session: HB2987 and HB2989, which could present significant hurdles in setting up new facilities; HB3754, which would legalize recreational marijuana; and SB1101, which would exclude the growing, harvesting and processing of marijuana from the agricultural sales tax exemption.