This summer, Oklahoma became the 30th state to vote on legalizing cannabis. On June 26, 57% of Oklahoma voters approved SQ 788 — an initiative calling for the swift implementation of medical cannabis. However, since the vote, the full approval for businesses to begin selling medical cannabis has encountered a few roadblocks. Here’s what you need to know about cannabis in Oklahoma.
Is cannabis legal in Oklahoma?
Recreational cannabis is not legal in Oklahoma. Possessing cannabis in Oklahoma without a medical cannabis license is punishable by imprisonment, fines, and more. If you are found guilty of a first offense, you may be sentenced to a year in prison; a second offense is considered a felony and carries up to 10 years jail time.
In June, 2018, voters approved SQ 788 approving medical cannabis with the following terms.
- Adult residents of Oklahoma can apply for a medical cannabis license with the approval of an Oklahoma board-certified physician. There are no qualifying conditions, unlike in other states. A license must be renewed every two years and applications cost $100.
- Patients who are registered in another medical cannabis state can get a temporary, 30-day medical cannabis license for a $100 fee.
- Caregivers may receive a license in order to assist patients who are homebound
- Unless a city or county issues further restrictions, licensed patients and caregivers may possess up to:
- Three ounces of cannabis on their person and eight ounces at their home
- One ounce of concentrates
- 72 ounces of edible cannabis products; and
- Six mature medical marijuana plants and up to six seedlings.
- It is legal to sell, manufacture, possess and distribute medical cannabis paraphernalia.
- A 7% retail sales tax will be imposed on medical cannabis.
For more details on the contents of SQ 788, read this primer.
Unfortunately, after the voters passed SQ 788, the Oklahoma Board of Health levied some restrictions to the voter-approved cannabis bill.
What are the restrictions on cannabis in Oklahoma?
The Oklahoma Board of Health added new restrictions to SQ 788 in direct contrast to the original initiative. One of those restrictions prohibited the sale of “smokeable cannabis.” Other rules include:
- Prohibiting the sale of cannabis products infused with more than 12% THC
- Prohibiting the sale of cannabis plants exceeding 20% THC
- Prohibiting dispensaries from selling flower cannabis, edible cannabis, and smokeable cannabis.
- Requiring that a dispensary employe a pharmacist on staff
- Requiring physicians to register before recommendations, as well as:
- Complete cannabis-specific training
- Screen patients for substance abuse
- Screen patients for mental health issues
- Decide if a patient presents a “risk for diversion”
- Requiring physicians to perform a pregnancy test on “females of childbearing years”
Obviously, these new rules go against the original intent of the initiative and may restrict many patients access to medical cannabis. Nevertheless, Oklahoma’s governor signed these amendments into law in early July.
What’s next for cannabis in Oklahoma?
Proponents of medical cannabis will continue to lobby for improved access to medical cannabis in Oklahoma. The State Attorney General has also issued a warning that the restrictions violate voter mandate. Some advocates are considering taking legal action, while others are using this moment to gather support for recreational/adult use legalization on the 2018 ballot in November.
Meanwhile, no cannabis can legally be grown in Oklahoma until patients and growers are issued a license from the state. Experts don’t expect Oklahoma to begin issuing licenses until September. Applications for patients, growers, dispensaries, and packagers are expected to open in late August.
How to start a cannabis business in Oklahoma
What does this mean for anyone interested in starting a cannabis business in Oklahoma? It’s a good time to start keeping track of how cannabis regulations develop. If historic trends are any indication, a state that passes medical cannabis is usually primed to also pass adult-use cannabis legalization.
We will continue to provide updates on starting a cannabis business in Oklahoma as things develop. In the meantime, you should start to find an investor, begin the hiring process, and take these first steps to starting a cannabis business. Some of the things you might also do initially? Develop a business plan, find real estate, and learn more about what it takes to operate a cannabis business.
If you have questions, our experts are here to help. Get in touch with GreenGrowth CPAs today to find out more!