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Oklahoma House Passes Bill That Would Limit Number Of Medical Marijuana Businesses

In this Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020 file photo, marijuana plants are pictured at Baker Medical in Oklahoma City. Numbers from the Oklahoma Tax Commission show sales of medical marijuana in Oklahoma are continuing to smash records.
Sue Ogrocki
/
AP Photo
In this Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020 file photo, marijuana plants are pictured at Baker Medical in Oklahoma City. Numbers from the Oklahoma Tax Commission show sales of medical marijuana in Oklahoma are continuing to smash records.

Oklahoma’s medical marijuana market stands out in the nation’s cannabis industry due to its low barrier of entry for businesses, but the Oklahoma House passed a bill recently that would make it more difficult to enter the industry.

House Bill 2272 would put a temporary limit on the number of medical marijuana business licenses for dispensaries, growers and processors in the state. The cap would be the number of active licenses as of Sep. 1. This would include pending license applications submitted prior to that date. 

The bill’s author, Rep. Josh West (R-Grove) said during a House session the measure’s purpose is to combat the black market. 

“I think that we do have a thriving medical marijuana industry in the state of Oklahoma,” West said. “At the same time, we have a thriving black market industry in the state of Oklahoma too so this may not stop it completely, but I think this slows it down.”

There are currently more than 10,000 active licensed dispensaries, growers and processors in the state’s medical marijuana industry, but the bill would aim to eventually have no more than 8,000 (5,000 growers, 2,000 dispensaries and 1,000 processors). This would be achieved by prohibiting license renewals if specific performance targets are not met by businesses. 

Oklahoma currently has no limit on licensed medical marijuana businesses unlike other states like Louisiana where only one dispensary is allowed in each of the state’s nine regions. 

Opponents expressed concerns that the bill would interfere with the current free market approach and that the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority could be overwhelmed by the amount of license applications submitted before the cap would go into effect. 

If the number of licenses issued ever dropped below the cap amount, an impartial, number-based lottery would take place to issue the available licenses. 

The cap would be lifted in September of 2023. 

The measure now heads to the Oklahoma Senate. 

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