By Darrell Briggs
After the passage of 788 last year our state legislators realized they were going to have to enact laws protecting the citizenry of Oklahoma from the “wild, wild west of weed.” Beginning August 29, Oklahomans will begin seeing some of those legislative enactments come to fruition. Below is a brief synopsis of what is coming at the end of the month regarding the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana and Patient Protection Act (HB 2612):
Pursuant to HB 2612 and SB 162, five (5) new license categories are added to those already in place. They are:
- Short Term Patient: A sixty (60) day license to be issued to any patient applicant who meets the requirements for a two (2) year license but whose physician recommendation is only valid for sixty (60) days. A fee will be set during the rules process.
- Testing Laboratory: Licenses a laboratory to perform testing on medical marijuana. This license is anticipated to be available by early 2020. The fee for this license is $2500.
- Transporter License: This license is in addition to the license for growers, processors, and dispensaries upon issuance of those licenses. The separate transportation licenses will be available for the distribution and storage of medical marijuana and will cost $2500.
- Transporter Agent: Required for any agents, employees, officers, or owners of a transporter license holder to transport medical marijuana. This license is in addition to the Transporter License and will cost each individual operating under the Transporter License to pay $100.
- Education Facility: Is a license for a nonprofit entity to provide training and education to individuals involved in the growing, processing, packaging, and testing of medical marijuana. This license will cost $500 and should be available in early 2020.
HB 2613 amends HB 2612 authorizing physicians licensed by and in good standing with the Board of Podiatric Medical Examiners to recommend medical marijuana.
HB2601 creates a new short-term, sixty-day (60-day) medical marijuana patient license for Oklahoma patients whose physician recommendation is only valid for 60 days.
SB1030 requires OMMA to share information on medical marijuana licenses with the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Telecommunications System.
HB2612 sets a reduced application fee of $20 for 100% disabled veterans.
HB2612 defines “school” to include preschools for the purposes of the 1,000 feet requirement for dispensaries. “School” does not include a homeschool, daycare, or childcare facility.
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There are also new laws governing business applications and renewals. They are:
HB2601 and HB2612 lengthen the timeline for review of business applications to ninety (90) business days.
The online renewal system will be available starting August 29. Licenses will remain valid and active while the renewal is being administered, even if the renewal processing time goes beyond the expiration date of the license.
HB2612 changes state residency to mean (1) Oklahoma residency for 2 years preceding date of application; or (2) 5 years of continuous Oklahoma residency during the 25 years preceding date of application. Commercial licenses issued prior to the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana and Patient Protection Act are grandfathered in and exempt from the new 2-year or 5-year residency requirements.
SB1030 compels all business applicants to provide a Certificate of Compliance from their local government(s) that certifies the applicant is following zoning, municipal ordinances, and all safety, electrical, fire, plumbing, waste, construction, and building specification codes.
HB2612 authorizes licensed growers to sell seeds, flowers, or clones to other licensed growers. It also authorizes licensed dispensaries to sell to other licensed dispensaries.
HB2612 requires an electronic seed-to-sale inventory tracking system that will track the life cycle of medical marijuana – a tracking system compatible with the seed-to-sale tracking system established by OMMA.
HB2612 and SB162 require growers and processors to use licensed laboratories to test harvest and product batches that are no greater than 10 pounds before any sale, transfer, or processing of medical marijuana. Owners of laboratories cannot have a direct or indirect beneficial ownership interest in any licensed dispensary, grower, or processor. Testing requirements are expanded to encompass all medical marijuana.
HB2612 and HB2601 add packaging and labeling requirements.
HB2612 expands OMMA inspection authority to include all commercial license types and authorizes inspections twice a year with prior notice and additional inspections when necessary due to violations.
These new regulations will be beneficial to Oklahoma patients. The laws will help ensure medicine grown and processed in our state is safe for use in both flower and processed forms. However, the added expense will drive the cost of medical marijuana even higher, preventing many of those who truly need from being able to afford it. Affordability is already an issue for those on fixed incomes. Is our state government going to be the next “Big Pharma”?