It’s not quite gold, but Oklahoma is on a cannabis frenzy – for both patients and businesses – and there are no signs of slowing down.

The number of active patients has increased by more than 46,000 in the past year, which according to a licensing report released by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) on August 2, represents an increase of 14% to currently almost 376,000 patients, meaning that approximately 9, 4% of the state’s population are actively registered in the medical cannabis program.

Also in the report, Oklahoma has 469 more licensed companies than at that time last year, for a total of 12,598 active. This list includes 8,625 producers, 2,325 pharmacies and 1,523 processors as well as transport companies, laboratories and other licensees.

“Oklahoma has one of the largest programs in the country,” said the Marijuana Policy Project in a May 3 policy update. “Despite the pandemic, the medical cannabis market is booming, and the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority reports that the state raised over $ 127 million in state and local medical cannabis taxes in 2020.”

After voters approved State Question 788, legalizing medical cannabis, on June 26, 2018, Oklahoma became the nation’s fastest state to enact effective medical cannabis law.

Less than two months after SQ 788 was passed, Oklahoma opened its application process to corporate and patient applications – OMMA received 366 patient applications and 205 commercial applications in the first hour of its portal opening. A total of 23 people were approved for medical cannabis licenses on the first day. The first sales began about a month later.

While the state program has continued to grow under unlimited licenses, Oklahoma lawmakers recently passed a bill that would order OMMA to conduct on-site compliance inspections with medical cannabis dispensaries, processing and cultivation licensees starting September 1. Policy is to ensure that business licensees are actively operating or working towards operational status in accordance with the text of the bill. After a grace period has expired, OMMA can terminate all licenses if certain standards are not complied with.

In addition, the law approved by Governor Kevin Stitt on May 18 also requires medical cannabis companies to submit a certificate of ownership disclosing the existence of foreign financial interests and, if applicable, the identity of such property to the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (OBNDD) until August 30th. New licensees have 60 days to adhere to. Otherwise the OMMA licenses will be lost.

To apply for a license in Oklahoma, 75% of the property must be owned by someone who has lived in the state for at least two years; however, illegal operations have emerged through a loophole – companies hire “ghost owners” to obtain licenses. This is one reason some state lawmakers have drafted new regulations for the industry.

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Republican MP Scott Fetgatter, the sponsor of Senate Bill 1033, backed the bill because it allowed the OBNDD and OMMA to enter into agreements to hire additional agents, he said in a press release. The governor approved the bill on May 28th.

“In 2018 we bought the ticket and went with us when it came to medical marijuana in Oklahoma,” said Fetgatter. “There weren’t many regulations and stakeholders on all sides of the issue looked for structure. This industry has flourished in the last three years, and we have worked to ensure that structures are in place to regulate and guide those who work in it. I am proud that we were able to pass so many important laws in this session that do just that. “

Despite illegal operations, Oklahoma collected $ 90.7 million in medical cannabis taxes in the first seven months of 2021, including $ 12.6 million in July, according to OMMA. At this rate, Oklahoma will surpass its $ 155 million medical cannabis tax levied this year – a 22% increase from 2020.

While Oklahoma was the 30th state to legalize medical cannabis in 2018, it now has one of the largest programs in the country. And it’s still growing.