Welcome to “Green” Country: New Marijuana Business Opportunities Following the Passage of SQ 788
On June 26, 2018, Oklahoma citizens voted overwhelmingly to pass SQ 788, legalizing medical marijuana. This makes Oklahoma the thirtieth (30th) state to pass such an initiative. Medical marijuana will be regulated by the Oklahoma State Department of Health (the “OSDH”). The Oklahoma State Board of Health met on July 10, 2018, and adopted the current, and highly controversial, Emergency Rules that will govern the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority. Due to the recommendation of the Oklahoma Attorney General, there will likely be a special session of the Board of Health to reconsider the Emergency Rules. Regardless, the OSDH will have application information and requirements available by July 26 and will begin accepting applications no later than August 25. While most people are likely interested in a patient license, this leaves a lot to be determined in regards to commercial establishments and licensing.
It is not often that an entire new industry is created almost over night. There are many opportunities for those interested in this new industry in Oklahoma. Among the many licenses the OSDH will be in charge of issuing are those for commercial growers, processors, dispensaries, and researchers.
Commercial growers will be responsible for growing, harvesting, and packaging medical marijuana for the purpose of selling the same to licensed dispensaries, processors, and researchers. Most, if not all, commercial growers will also need a transportation license in order to transport their product to the other licensees.
Processors will be allowed to purchase medical marijuana from commercial growers in order to prepare, manufacture, package, sell to and deliver medical marijuana to dispensary licensees and other processor licensees. Additionally, processors may process medical marijuana received from a qualified patient into a medical marijuana concentrate.
Dispensaries, of course, are the entities allowed to purchase medical marijuana and related products to sell to qualified patients and caregivers. Dispensaries cannot be co-located with any other business, and will be limited to selling medical marijuana and medical marijuana products. Dispensaries will be required to have a “Dispensary Manager” on site at all times who is an Oklahoma licensed pharmacist. Furthermore, dispensaries will not be able to dispense marijuana products in flower, dry leaf, or plant form. However, the anticipated forthcoming amended rules will almost certainly change these requirements of dispensaries.
Another commercial license that will be available is a research license. This license allows the holder of said license to produce, process, and possess marijuana solely for human and plant research purposes. To obtain a research license, a proposed research project will need to be submitted for approval. Nobody will be allowed to possess marijuana for research purposes until the specific research project has been approved.
In addition to the commercial licenses listed above, the OSDH will also approve laboratories for the purpose of testing medical marijuana and marijuana-derived products. The laboratory must be accredited by the NELAC Institute (TNI), ANSI/ASQ National Accreditation Board or other similar accrediting entity as determined by the OSDH, using the ISO/IEC Standard 17025. A laboratory may apply to be licensed to perform testing of medical marijuana and marijuana-derived products, but must be able to test for cannabinoids, residual pesticides, heavy metals, microbiological impurities, residual solvents and processing chemicals, water activity and moisture content, foreign materials, sterility, and such other testing categories as the OSDH may identify.
There are still many uncertainties surrounding the Oklahoma medical marijuana industry, and there will be a learning curve for everyone. Ward Lee & Coats, PLC has a long-standing history of assisting businesses from the ground up and will be following the rules and regulations closely as they evolve.
Should you or someone you know be interested in learning more about the business opportunities surrounding the medical marijuana industry in Oklahoma feel free to give us a call and schedule an appointment.
The possession, use, distribution and sale of marijuana are all federal crimes and this blog is not intended to give you any legal advice, nor is it intended to lead you to believe that marijuana is legal under federal law.