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Oklahoma Proposes Overhaul of Cannabis Tracking System, Opening Door for Competition

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In a significant move, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) has unveiled proposed regulations that could revolutionize the state's cannabis inventory tracking system. If approved, cannabis operators in Oklahoma may no longer be bound to RFID (radio frequency identification) tracking tags, signaling a departure from the existing norm.

The proposed rules, currently open for public comment and awaiting legislative review and gubernatorial approval, aim to introduce a more flexible “inventory tracking system” in place of the rigid RFID requirement. While licensees are not immediately relieved from using RFID tags, the change is anticipated to expand options beyond the current technology, fostering a more competitive landscape during future solicitations or requests for proposals (RFPs).

OMMA spokesperson Porsha Riley clarified, “This change does not eliminate current requirements for licensees to use RFID tags but will allow for more options beyond the traditional RFID-based technology currently being utilized and will enhance the competitive nature of any future solicitation/RFP.”

The state's current contract with Metrc, which provides track and trace services using proprietary RFID tags, may face increased competition if the proposed regulations are enacted. Metrc's contract with Oklahoma, signed in September 2020, could see a potential shake-up, as the new rules open the door for alternative technologies during the bidding process.

Metrc, however, remains steadfast in its commitment to regulatory compliance. A spokesperson for Metrc stated, “The proposed rule change does not alter Metrc’s service offering or our current obligation to the state in accordance with our contract. Metrc will continue to partner with OMMA and the Oklahoma industry to ensure regulatory compliance needs are met for all parties.”

Attorney Ronald Durbin, a vocal critic of OMMA's regulations and the state's contract with Metrc, expressed optimism about the proposed change, hoping it could pave the way for amendments or the termination of the existing contract. Durbin, who represents Full Tilt, a cannabis company currently engaged in legal action against OMMA, emphasized the need to challenge what he deems an “illegal contract.”

The proposed regulations, in addition to addressing the RFID requirement, tackle various aspects of the cannabis industry in Oklahoma. Criminal background screenings for applicants, unannounced inspections, and additional bonding requirements are among the measures aimed at curbing illicit activities in the market.

The regulations also introduce changes for dispensaries, requiring them to submit patient ID numbers to the state inventory tracking system. Moreover, sales tax funding for OMMA operations will be redirected to the legislature to support substance abuse programs and common education, with fines and fees similarly contributing to the legislature's financial pool, potentially influencing the funding of OMMA's operations.

The proposed regulations, unveiled on January 16, are set for a public hearing on February 16, with stakeholders and the public having the opportunity to voice their opinions on these potential changes. The outcome will shape the future landscape of cannabis regulation and tracking in Oklahoma.