Oklahoma cannabis companies fight over residency and zoning restrictions


Business owners operating in Oklahoma’s medical cannabis market have fought back against the enforcement of a harsh two-year residency requirement and 1,000-foot school buffer zone. Regulators are starting to feel the pressure from frustrated “cannapreurs”, who are keen to overthrow the strict rules.

According to the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA)), 9,266 active business licenses – inclusive of 2,035 dispensaries – had been distributed throughout active operators in Oklahoma’s medical cannabis industry as of June 1. The OMMA – which is responsible for regulating Oklahoma’s medical cannabis industry – has not commented on the subject.

In an attempt to abolish the rules, business owners took their case to Oklahoma County District Court. “Hundreds if not thousands” of licensed dispensaries could struggle as a direct effect of the buffer rules; the plaintiffs argued.

License-holders in Oklahoma’s medical cannabis market may not be severely impacted

In spite of the fear-mongering that is proliferating among cannabis business owners in Oklahoma right now, there is a silver lining — businesses that were awarded a license prior to the law’s passing in summer 2019 are spared the stricter residency requirement. 

On the other hand, it should be noted that medical cannabis companies in Oklahoma who applied for a license between March 15, 2019 and August 30, 2019 – the law’s date of enactment and effectuation – may be left in the dark until state regulators respond to the lawsuit. 

Cannabis attorney Sarah Lee Parrish has thrown a positive spin on the situation, however, telling MJBiz Daily that “pending” license predicaments are likely to be resolved successfully. Parrish also says that the buffer rule restricting dispensaries from operating within 1,000 feet of a school won’t be a problem for dispensaries that were compliant with the rules upon being awarded a license.

“To force the business to move (by denying a license renewal) likely would trigger great constitutional arguments,” said Parrish, who was victorious in her efforts to represent a client last year. 

Product testing is being enforced in Oklahoma’s medical cannabis market

The continued growth of Oklahoma’s medical cannabis market – retail sales totaled $345 million in 2019 and Marijuana Business Factbook analysts predict that revenue will top $700 million-$860 million this year has prompted state regulators to stiffen up product testing procedures. 

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, regulators see it necessary that suppliers conduct laboratory testing in a licensed facility following a three-month grace period. All growers and processors who sell cannabis products must abide by the mandatory testing requirements, which will guarantee that a sufficient number of licensed laboratories are able to conduct product analysis before patients receive their medicine.

Approximately 21 licensed laboratories are believed to be operating across Oklahoma’s medical cannabis market at the current time, according to the OMMA. The latest testing requirements have emerged following a product recall that extended from May to June of this year.

As per the rules for cultivators and processors serving Oklahoma’s medical cannabis industry, test results and associated records must be preserved for a minimum of two years. Moreover, dispensary customers are permitted to request a certificate of analysis that outlines product potency, purity and ingredients.