On June 26, 2018, Oklahoma joined the ranks of states legalizing medical marijuana, marking a significant milestone with the passage of SQ 788, the Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative. The subsequent enactment of the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana and Patient Protection Act in May 2019 provided a foundational regulatory framework, delegating rule-making authority to the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA). The Act introduced measures for inspections, applicant reviews, and the imposition of disciplinary actions for non-compliance by medical marijuana businesses. It also established a registry for patients and caregivers, delineating rights, restrictions, and prohibitions related to medical marijuana use.
On the business front, the Act outlined license classes and requirements for entities handling marijuana. Despite only four years passing since medical marijuana legalization, Oklahoma has emerged as one of the most accessible and efficient states for launching cannabis businesses. By December 2021, the state surpassed Colorado, Oregon, and Washington combined in the number of retail cannabis stores. However, the rapid growth is anticipated to decelerate, with a two-year moratorium on new medical marijuana licenses set to begin in August 2022, as signed into law by Gov. Stitt in May 2022.
Furthermore, recent legislative measures, such as SB 1033 signed in May 2021, provide additional provisions for license transfers, audits by the Oklahoma Tax Commission, and caregiver cultivation for up to five patients. While adult-use marijuana remains illegal in Oklahoma, the potential appearance of SQ 819 and SQ 820 on the November 2022 ballot suggests ongoing discussions about the potential legalization and regulation of marijuana for individuals aged twenty-one and above in the state.
Types of Cultivation Licenses in Oklahoma
Individuals aspiring to cultivate marijuana for medical purposes in Oklahoma must secure a medical marijuana grower license from the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA). Exclusive to medical purposes, this license is the sole option for marijuana cultivation in the state. If an individual intends to cultivate marijuana in different locations across Oklahoma counties or cities, distinct grower licenses are mandatory for each location.
Eligibility Criteria for Marijuana Cultivation in Oklahoma
Adults who are at least 25 years old and residents of Oklahoma are eligible to cultivate marijuana for medical purposes. The Oklahoma medical marijuana regulations outline specific requirements for the medical marijuana grower license. Notably, individuals with criminal convictions are barred from marijuana cultivation, as thorough criminal history background checks are part of the application process. Minors can cultivate marijuana without a license, but they must have a supervising adult approved for the marijuana plants grown in their homes. Exceptions are made for minors under 18 with medical marijuana patient cards. Specific restrictions apply, such as growing a maximum of six mature marijuana plants and six seedlings. Approved patients are limited to growing marijuana inside their properties and away from public view.
Application Process for Marijuana Cultivation License
Prospective marijuana growers can initiate the application for cultivation licenses through the online portal managed by the OMMA, where comprehensive application requirements and information are available. Essential documents required during the online application include a birth certificate, proof of residency for two years preceding the application date (or five continuous years within the last 25 years), evidence of business name registration and permission to operate in Oklahoma, applicant ID, certificate of compliance from the city or county of the growing facility, background check reports, and an Oklahoma tax permit. Each applicant must also submit a surety bond of at least $50,000 per license or evidence of owning the cultivation premises for a minimum of five years.
Application Review and Issuance
The OMMA provides a Marijuana License Application Checklist to guide applicants through the process. Applicants encountering difficulties can contact the OMMA for assistance. Accuracy in providing personal details is crucial for receiving verification emails. After a 14-business-day review, the OMMA issues a license to applicants who submitted all required documents and accurate information. Incomplete applications will be returned for rectification, and denial letters with reasons will be issued within 14 business days if all requirements are not met. The OMMA emphasizes a thorough and accurate application process to ensure compliance with Oklahoma's marijuana cultivation regulations.
Oklahoma's journey into legalized medical marijuana since the passage of SQ 788 in 2018 has positioned it as a prominent player in the cannabis industry. The state's regulatory framework, established by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana and Patient Protection Act, has fostered a remarkably accessible environment for cannabis businesses, as reflected in the substantial growth of licenses and dispensaries. However, the recent imposition of a two-year moratorium on new medical marijuana licenses signals a shift in the pace of expansion. The state's commitment to regulatory compliance, highlighted by stringent application requirements and ongoing oversight by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, underscores the importance of responsible and legal cannabis cultivation. As the state navigates potential future developments, such as adult-use legalization initiatives, stakeholders must remain vigilant in ensuring that Oklahoma's cannabis industry continues to flourish within the bounds of a well-regulated and compliant framework.