Oklahoma agricultural groups want to halt the medical cannabis grow licensing process

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Numerous agricultural associations in Oklahoma have sent a letter to state medical cannabis regulators that will hopefully prompt a moratorium on medical cannabis grow licenses. The letter was issued by farming groups and a law enforcement group.

“On behalf of rural Oklahoma farmers, ranchers and citizens, the undersigned organizations write with great concern about the explosive growth in the number of [cannabis] growing facilities in rural Oklahoma,” the groups wrote in their collaborative letter, which was addressed to the State Medical Marijuana Authority.

The Texas-bordered state is renowned for having one of the most permissive cannabis cultivation licensing schemes in the nation. Moreover, Oklahoma boasts more than 2,000 medical cannabis dispensaries more than any other U.S. state with a medical cannabis industry.

Number of issued cannabis cultivation licenses exceeds that of wheat farms

According to a handful of farm groups spread across the State of Oklahoma, regulators had issued a total of 8,630 medical cannabis cultivation licenses as of September 3. In comparison with other cultivation sectors, cannabis represents the highest cultivation demand.

Listed below are the number of cultivation licenses that have been issued for other mainstream farming markets:

  • Cotton and dairy farms (471)
  • Hog farms (1,906)
  • Soy farms (1,750)
  • Wheat farms (6,150)

“This new industry is fundamentally changing rural Oklahoma. An immediate moratorium on the issuance of permits will allow time to consider appropriate and adequate actions to preserve rural Oklahoma, ” say spokespersons for the groups.

The groups are urging the state to pause the cannabis cultivation licensing process until at least June 1, 2022. Meanwhile, members of the groups are hopeful that Oklahoma regulators will carefully assess the impact of the medical cannabis industry on issues such as water supply and waste disposal.

The letter was signed by the following organizations:

  • Oklahoma Agricultural Aviation Association
  • Oklahoma Dairy Producers Association
  • Oklahoma Ranchers Association
  • Oklahoma Sheriffs Association
  • Oklahoma Soy Association.

Oklahoma has about 49 marijuana stores for every 100,000 residents

Cannabis in Oklahoma is still illegal for recreational use, but those who possess a state-issued license can enjoy it for medical use. Additionally, CBD oil derived from industrial hemp is deemed legal without the need for a license.

Based on the state’s Tax Commission data, licensed medical cannabis retailers forked out more than $1.5 billion on the plant since it became legal to purchase in 2018. This is based on an analysis of the latest tax collection figures from the Oklahoma Tax Commission.

Data released by the Commission confirms that medical cannabis retailers generated more than $831 million in total revenue in 2020. 

Also in recent news, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) is integrating a seed-to-sale monitoring system, which will track each individual cannabis plant and package from the farm to the point-of-sale (PoS).

In addition to this, the OMMA is working towards the implementation of a quality assurance program that will enable customers to receive packages that are up to state-set standards.

The Oklahoma House of Representatives recently passed House Bill 2272. If it is approved by the Senate, the bill would cap the number of commercial licenses that OMMA can award in an effort to tackle organized crime from overshadowing the legal industry.