Oklahoma generated record medical cannabis tax revenue in March

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

States that legalize cannabis stand to benefit the local economy, with sales taxes contributing to various community programs and funding projects. In Oklahoma – where medical cannabis was legalized on June 26, 2018 with the passing of voter-approved voters approved State Question 788 – the results are constantly improving.

Tax revenue earned through Oklahoma’s medical cannabis industry hit a record high in March. Data from the Oklahoma Tax Commission confirmed that revenue soared to $7.8 million plus VAT — the highest figures since the program’s tax dollars were initially published in November 2018.

The commission’s tax revenue figures represent the seven percent tax that is imposed on all medical cannabis sales in Oklahoma. In addition to this, the total includes state and local sales taxes; a surge in revenue was recorded for each classification of taxes.

Room for expansion in Oklahoma’s medical cannabis market 

Annually, Oklahoma’s medical cannabis market has the potential to rake in $700 million and, with so much interest in the state’s program, these predictions are entirely possible. Back in November of last year, state data showed that Oklahoma’s medical cannabis patient count constituted more than five percent of the population; over 200,000 people were in possession of a patient card at this time. This is more than any other program that is currently active across the U.S.

Tax receipts released by the Oklahoma Tax Commission showed that medical cannabis sales in Oklahoma exceeded $258 million during the first 10 months of 2019. Continued growth in cannabis tax revenue is an indication that there’s still plenty of potential for the industry to expand. As the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority continues awarding qualifying patients with registered cards, not only will sales and tax revenue increase, but so too will the number of producers, cultivators and dispensaries serving statewide consumers.

Curbside medical cannabis sales in Oklahoma permitted amid COVID-19 pandemic

In spite of the success that Oklahoma’s medical cannabis program has experienced since its inception two years ago, market growth may stumble this year. Why? The recent coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has put a spanner in the works for business owners operating within the state. Much like many other legal cannabis markets across the U.S., dispensary owners in Oklahoma will not be permitted to continue serving customers in a face-to-face setting.

Stores have been forced to close their doors in an effort to minimize the risks of COVID-19 spreading further and causing unnecessary fatalities. However, it doesn’t mean that consumers will go without, nor does it mean that dispensaries must stop conducting transactions. As per orders from the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, curbside pickup can be arranged by dispensaries; a service that will limit personal interaction. 

Gov. Kevin Stitt recently ordered certain businesses in counties with confirmed COVID-19 cases to stop operations for a minimum of 21 days. Fortunately, medical cannabis dispensaries are considered “essential” businesses and are therefore exempt from the Governor’s mandate.