A new report highlights the lack of regulation throughout Oklahoma’s medical marijuana industry.
The Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency (LOFT), an agency that reviews the performances of various state functions, released a “rapid-response” report on Thursday into the government’s lack of handling of the marijuana industry.
When voters approved SQ 788 at the polls in 2018, it created the “most accessible medical marijuana industry in the nation.” The report points to the lack of a limit for marijuana business licenses and a regulatory agency that is unequipped to match the scale of growth in the industry.
There are 12,021 licensed marijuana businesses as of Feb. 11, according to the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, a more than 400% increase from the licensees in 2018. Business licenses are divided among growers, dispensaries, and processors.
OMMA Director Adria Berry told lawmakers on Thursday that the agency is hiring more inspectors to reach their goal of inspecting every licensed business.
“When we have our seed-to-sale program up and running, along with our analytics program, and compliance inspectors out in the field—there’s no question we can get our arms around this and actually regulate the industry,” Berry said.
Collaboration between the OMMA and other state agencies could be improved, according to the report.
“Currently, the agencies regulation Oklahoma’s medical marijuana industry does not have a standard system for sharing data,” the report stated. “These issues were cited as the greatest barriers to agencies in performing their duties.”
Staffing at the state marijuana authority remains an issue. The OMMA has filled fewer than 50% of compliance inspector positions, as of January 12, according to the report.
State officials are considering a number of changes related to marijuana regulation.
Multiple lawmakers have proposed bills that would temporarily pause the issuance of new licenses, while some proposed establishing a cap on the number of business licenses the OMMA can award.
Rep. John West of Grove has proposed both ideas in separate bills.
“I am all for the Oklahoma business and the Oklahoma patient– that’s not my concern. It’s the crime rings,” West said. “I think if you talk to the Bureau of narcotics they’ll tell you that pretty much every major crime ring in the world is operating in the state of Oklahoma right now.”