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Oklahoma’s Medical Marijuana Industry Boomed In 2020 Despite COVID-19 Pandemic

Chip Baker holds a cutting of a marijuana plant at the Baker's marijuana nursery at Bakers Medical, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020, in Oklahoma City.
Sue Ogrocki
AP Photo
Chip Baker holds a cutting of a marijuana plant at the Baker's marijuana nursery at Bakers Medical, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020, in Oklahoma City.

Many industries in Oklahoma faced unprecedented challenges in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the state’s medical marijauna industry was an outlier, experiencing increased sales and job growth.


According to the cannabis website Leafly’s annual jobs report, Oklahoma’s medical marijuana product sales surpassed $800 million in 2020, more than doubling the state’s sales total from the previous year. 

This led to over 6,000 new jobs being added to Oklahoma’s medical mariijuana industry in 2020, bringing the total number of cannabis jobs in the state up to almost 17,000. 

To put that in perspective, there are now more medical marijuana employees than construction workers in the state, according to the report. 

Even though the cannabis market in the U.S. has experienced rapid growth over the past few years, Bruce Barcott, senior editor of Leafly, said 2020 was a bit of an anomaly within the industry.  

“Many people who were already using cannabis medicinally used it for new conditions related to the pandemic, including anxiety, insomnia and stress,” Barcott said. 

Oklahoma’s loose restrictions on obtaining a medical marijuana business license also contributed to the industries’ growth last year, Barcott said. As of early February, there are over 10,000 medical marijuana businesses in Oklahoma. 

The boom in Oklahoma’s medical marijuana industry last year was part of a national trend among states with legal medical or adult use cannabis markets. According to the report, Americans bought over $18 billion worth of cannabis products in 2020, a 71% increase over the previous year.  

Barcott said he expects growth in the U.S. cannabis industry to continue in 2021, but that it likely won’t be as booming as 2020. 

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Katelyn discovered her love for radio as a student employee at KGOU, graduating from the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, and then working as a reporter and producer in 2021-22. Katelyn has completed internships at SiriusXM in New York City and at local news organizations such as The Journal Record and The Poteau Daily News. Katelyn served as president of the OU chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists from 2017 to 2020. She grew up in Midland, Texas.
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