With the legalization of medical marijuana in Oklahoma, cannabis businesses are opening on every corner. Everyone wants to capitalize on this new, growing industry; however, many are not familiar with compliance laws that will eventually make their way to Oklahoma.
Companies new to the cannabis industry need to seek out consultants to understand compliance and what is on the horizon with Oklahoma laws. Here are four things every cannabis company should consider before they launch their business:
Know your grow team. I encourage local dispensaries to vet out their growers to make sure they aren’t using pesticides and fungicides on their products. Not all products are created equally.
When you have a medical condition like cancer, the last thing you want to do is treat your illness with cannabis that has been sprayed with harmful chemicals. With Oklahoma’s fluctuating weather, pests will become a real problem come spring.
Growers will not know how to get rid of them and instead of losing thousands of dollars in product, they will default to using harmful pesticides unless they are educated on alternative treatments. Reaching out to grow experts will be essential for their first year harvesting cannabis to grow the most organic cannabis possible.
Understand product genetics. Many people will start to copy products and knockoffs will hit the market. Ask about certified genetics. Know what you are selling/purchasing and look for certified genetics seals that give proof to what is in the products.
Educate your staff. With medical marijuana being new to Oklahoma, thousands of patients are obtaining their medical card, but they have no idea what product is best for their ailment. Dispensaries need to educate the patients on the best products for them by showing them proven facts and real case studies to back up the product and let the patient make an educated decision on what is right for them.
Seek out a consultant. A consultant can make sure you are in compliance with local laws. Laws came into place in Colorado after the growers and dispensaries were already in business. This is happening in Oklahoma, as well.
Compliance is coming, so we encourage businesses to start in compliance now to save them time and money later.
Jace Rivera of Living Soil Solutions Consulting Co. at Green Prairie Farms has 12 years of cannabis cultivation experience.
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In June of 2018, the State of Oklahoma passed SQ 788, which legalized the sale and use of medical marijuana within the state. This made it the 30th of the United States to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. Applications for commercial and patient licenses became available in August of 2018, and the first Oklahoma dispensary opened its doors in October of that year.
Oklahoma’s medical marijuana program is still extremely new, and there is a chance that more rules and regulations may be added later on as the state adjusts to the new program. The current regulations are defined by the text of SQ 788. Individual cities and counties may also choose to pass their own commercial or zoning restrictions, although they are not permitted to make medical marijuana illegal in any part of Oklahoma.
All medical marijuana patient and caregiver licenses are administered by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, or OMMA; most rules and regulations can be found on their website at omma.ok.gov. Commercial grower, processor, and retailer licenses are managed by the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
Cannabis Possession Law in Oklahoma
If you have a medical marijuana license in the state of Oklahoma, you can legally possess up to 3 ounces on your person and up to 8 ounces in your residence. You may also possess up to 1 ounce of concentrate and 72 ounces of edibles. Finally, you can have up to 6 mature plants and 6 seedlings, or designate a caregiver to grow those plants for you.
All marijuana, whether on its way to the dispensary or after the purchase, must be transported in a locked container that is clearly labeled “Medical Marijuana or Derivative.” This container must be kept shielded from public view, which means you can’t carry it on the street or leave it on the seat of your car. Legally possessed marijuana is still not allowed to be transported across state lines.
The State of Oklahoma has so far only legalized marijuana for medical applications. It is still unlawful to posses any form of cannabis without a license. Violators face a misdemeanor punishable with up to 1 year or a $1000 fine. However, persons found in possession of less than 1.5 ounces who can state a medical condition but do not have a license will only face a misdemeanor with a $400 fine.
All smokeable and vapeable substances are subject to the same restrictions set for tobacco under Oklahoma state law. This means that there can be no smoking on public transportation, in any workplace or indoor public place, or within 25 feet of the entrances to one of these places. Oklahoma City also bans smoking in all public parks and on other city-owned property; individual cities may have set their own smoking restrictions and bans.
Purchasing from an Oklahoma Dispensary
Oklahoma law dictates that medical marijuana may only be purchased directly from a licensed dispensary. Purchasers are required to show their patient or caregiver license. Aside from the possession limit of 3 ounces on person and 8 ounces at home, there are no restrictions on the amount of marijuana that can be purchased at one time. Dispensaries are also legally allowed to sell clones and seedlings, but no other commercial retailer is permitted to do so.
Individual cities in Oklahoma have passed their own zoning laws regarding where a dispensary may be built, which may limit the availability of cannabis in certain areas. Medical marijuana purchases are subject to a 7% tax on top of any existing state or city sales taxes.
Like many states, Oklahoma has requested that marijuana be transported in a sealed and marked container. However, the state has not laid down specific regulations regarding the nature of this container, which leaves dispensaries and customers open to provide their own exit packaging. Some dispensaries may choose to mandate a specific exit packaging to make sure that they comply with regulations.
All medical marijuana products must be properly labeled. This labeling includes the Oklahoma Uniform Symbol, which will identify all products containing marijuana. The symbol has to be at least half an inch by half an inch in size and printed in color. The chosen symbol is a red icon containing an exclamation point and a marijuana leaf, with the text “Contains THC” and “not safe for kids or pets” underneath it. Packaging must be also be childproof, and cannot have a design that makes it attractive to children or minors.
Edible products have to follow existing laws and regulations for food safety. Marijuana used in edibles is considered an additive or an edible substance, not a dangerous or non-nutritive substance. All edibles must meet the usual food labeling requirements, including ingredients lists, nutrition facts, and allergy information. They also need have the dosage information in milligrams of THC and a list of cannabis ingredients, including the batch of marijuana used.
Applying for a Medical Marijuana License in Oklahoma
The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority accepts license applications from Oklahoma residents over the age of 18, and from minors applying with the assistance of a parent or guardian. Applicants must provide a doctor’s note signed within the last 30 days, a full-face photograph, proof of identity, and proof of residence. They must also sign a statement promising not to distribute marijuana to any unlicensed persons.
If the application is accepted, there is a $100 processing fee. The patient will be mailed a state-issued ID card with their information and a unique license number. The license should be mailed within 14 business days. Licenses are valid for two years after they are issued. If a minor turns 18 during this time, they must apply for a new license. Temporary licenses can be issued to patients who have medical marijuana licenses from another state. These temporary licenses are only valid for 30 days, and require an additional $100 fee to be renewed. Temporary licenses cannot be valid past the expiration date of the original out-of-state license.
OMMA also offers licenses for designated caregivers. The patient must submit a physician recommendation form that certifies their need for a caregiver in order to obtain the additional license; this need includes the patient being homebound, or incapable of purchasing and administering their own product. A caregiver is permitted to purchase and assist with the administration of medical marijuana, and may also grow and process the patient’s allotted plants. Patients can designate a caregiver during the application process, or choose to designate one later on. Patients may also request the withdrawal of any caregiver license that they are currently sponsoring.
Licenses issued to minors will also include the name of a parent or guardian, allowing that person to make purchases at the dispensary. A parent is not considered a caregiver for the purposes of obtaining a caregiver license; a physician must still certify that the patient is homebound and qualifies for a caregiver.
All OMMA license applications can be completed online. Applications and more detailed information can be found at omma.ok.gov.
Becoming a Recommending Physician
Oklahoman physicians may apply with OMMA to join a registry of recommending physicians. Registration is not necessary, but helps expedite the processing of applicants recommended by that doctor. Physicians must be board certified and in good standing with the state to provide recommendations. Medical students or physicians in residency do not meet this definition and are not eligible.
There is currently no list of conditions approved for treatment with medical marijuana. This means that doctors may make recommendations as they deem appropriate. Minor applicants require recommendations from two separate physicians.
Upon registration, physicians may choose whether to be publicly listed as a recommendation provider. This list is meant to assist patients looking for a recommending physician and can be found on the OMMA website.
Commercial Medical Marijuana: Becoming a Grower, Processor, or Retailer
In order to grow, process, or sell cannabis products in Oklahoma, you need to obtain a license from the Oklahoma State Department of Health. These applications include a business plan that addresses environmental, security, and staffing concerns. All applicants must be 25 years of age or older, and application fees are set at $2,500.
Licensed commercial growers may only sell to a licensed processor or retailer. There is currently no limit on the amount that they may grow or sell. Licensed processors are allowed to purchase cannabis from growers and distill it to make concentrate or edibles, which they may then only sell to a licensed retailer.
All licensees are subject to normal food and health safety standards as set by the State Department of Health. Possession of a license grants the state permission to perform inspections during normal business hours; this includes an annual random inspection, as well as additional unannounced inspections if complaints are received by the department.
If a commercial application is approved, the licensee will also receive a transportation license, allowing them to move medical marijuana products from one grower, processor, or dispensary to another. This license must be shown to local authorities as needed.
Once a dispensary or other licensed establishment has been opened, operators are required to submit a monthly report to the State Department. This report must include the amount of cannabis grown, processed, sold, or disposed of. Individual batches must be labeled and tracked with a batch number, and inventories must be maintained at all times. Failure to properly maintain and submit reports can results in fines or a revocation of the license.
If a commercial license is revoked, the establishment has up to 30 days to liquidate and transfer their assets to other licensed companies. After that point, any remaining cannabis on the premises must be surrendered and disposed of.
Medical Marijuana in the Workplace
Under the regulations set by OMMA, employers are not allowed to discriminate against employees for possessing a medical marijuana license, or for testing positive for marijuana if they hold a license. This protection also extends to potential job applicants; if the employer chooses not to hire that candidate, it must be for another reason than their medical use of marijuana.
However, marijuana remains federally illegal, and individual employers are still permitted to enforce rules against the possession and use of cannabis products in the workplace. Employees should not go to work impaired, use medical marijuana on business property, or have cannabis products on their person while on the job. Drug tests may be conducted, but must comply with state regulations.
Medical Marijuana in Schools
Shortly after the amendment to legalize medical marijuana was passed, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction released a statement regarding how the new laws relate to Oklahoma’s school system.
No dispensary may be opened within 1000 feet of any public or private school in Oklahoma. This distance is determined by the nearest property line of the dispensary.
Minors are eligible to obtain a medical marijuana license with the signature of a parent or guardian. However, they are not allowed to self administer medical marijuana products on school grounds. School staff are also not permitted to administer the products. The state seems to have left it open to each individual school district to determine whether their policy allows parents to bring medical marijuana onto school grounds and administer it to the student themselves.