Considerations had been in all places at a city corridor assembly in Pauls Valley final week centered intensely on the darkish facet of the medical marijuana trade and how you can flip round Oklahoma being what some are calling right this moment’s “stoner state.”
Frustrations at instances spilled out as a packed viewers first listened to some displays earlier than then providing their very own two cents price on the issues over the issues coming from a model new trade created with a vote of the folks again in 2018.
State Rep. Cindy Roe, R-Lindsay, organized the Dec. 16 gathering as legislators and officers on the felony and regulatory sides of medical marijuana all supplied up their ideas on an trade that is nonetheless new by way of enforcement.
All in attendance admitted there are quite a few issues for the state that also exist as one viewers member shouted out it is “not the Sooner state anymore. It is the stoner state.”
“We had been left to try to legislate what was in that petition,” Roe mentioned concerning the residents’ petition that led to an election and voters passing the medical marijuana difficulty into actuality for Oklahoma three years in the past.
“It has been a headache and is continuous to be a difficulty.”
Mark Woodward of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Harmful Medication Management mentioned the primary couple of years had been comparatively quiet for the brand new marijuana trade earlier than a wave of criminality started constructing.
“Then we began to see folks step exterior the bounds of the regulation – these on the felony facet. We did not have that many at first. Some issues modified final 12 months,” Woodward mentioned.
Illustrating his level, Woodward says there are actually round 8,500 marijuana develop operations in Oklahoma in comparison with lower than 2,400 in California and the complete west coast. He provides there are 2,200 dispensaries in Oklahoma, greater than a number of western states put collectively.
“We had lots of people come into Oklahoma who did not suppose the regulation utilized to them,” he mentioned. “The market bought so oversaturated they could not promote their product legally, in order that they began promoting illegally.
“You’ll be able to’t inform the great guys from the dangerous guys. Now Oklahoma is the primary supply for unlawful marijuana. Why Oklahoma? It was form of an ideal storm.”
One issue – the virus pandemic shut down many companies resulting in employees being recruited from out of state to come back to Oklahoma for jobs in medical marijuana.
One other, land is cheaper right here resulting in many operators from the west coast relocating to Oklahoma.
A 3rd issue is it prices far much less right here for operators to get a license to develop marijuana.
“The reliable grows are saying they can not compete,” Woodward mentioned.
“It is a nicely oiled machine the way in which they’re delivery within the crops from California, the employees. What we’re after are the folks bringing within the crops, bringing within the employees, shifting the cash for these organizations. There are skilled felony organizations.
“We have got to close down these folks which might be shifting the employees, the crops and the cash.”
An instance of simply how worthwhile it may be, Woodward mentioned they’ll develop marijuana for $100 a pound in Oklahoma after which flip round and promote it illegally for $4,000 a pound in to illustrate Brooklyn, New York.
In truth, the month of October is being referred to as “croptober” by some as officers say Oklahoma is now producing presumably two-thirds of the unlawful marijuana in the complete nation.
Adria Berry, director of the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, admits there’s been chaos from the beginning with the licensing course of for marijuana growers.
“I am not right here to make excuses for the regulation not being enforced early within the course of, however I can guarantee you that’s turning round rapidly,” Berry mentioned.
Her hopes are the doubling of workers to work on license compliance will assist make a distinction.
“I feel within the subsequent 12 months we’ll see a unique atmosphere. It’ll change the complete panorama of this trade. It is at a boiling level, and we’re able the place we will have to repair this.”
Additionally proper in the course of the legislative entrance for marijuana are state Rep. Scott Fetgatter, R-Okmulgee, and state Sen. Greg McCortney, R-Ada. Each have been on a legislative committee working to get a greater deal with on the legalities and enforcement of medical marijuana.
For Fetgatter, who has shut ties to Pauls Valley, the medical marijuana factor is a “dangerous piece of regulation” as there’s loads of gaps being taken benefit of by unlawful operators.
Fetgatter additionally believes the OMMA has been an “absolute catastrophe” throughout these early instances of the brand new marijuana regulation.
“It is not going away,” Fetgatter mentioned concerning the marijuana trade. “It is most likely simply going to get greater.
“My aim is to be the primary state within the union to kill the black market. We want to ensure we’re not strangling authorized companies and nonetheless killing the black market.
“I do not like marijuana. Whether or not I prefer it or not I will assist the companies that do it proper and combat like loopy to close down the folks that do not.
“The true downside is to make it tougher to get a license.”
McCortney agreed the issues of right this moment are attributable to an actual shock when voters gave their OK to medical marijuana being the regulation of the land in Oklahoma.
Consequently, he says nobody was actually ready to cope with the difficulty at the beginning.
“It occurred so quick we simply have not wrapped our palms round it. This got here out of nowhere,” McCortney mentioned.
“I labored towards this and knew it was going to be a nightmare. That is precisely what’s occurred. It is worse than anyone even thought it was going to be.
“In the long run it is provide and demand. Proper now we’re supplying marijuana for the east coast.”
McCortney believes one risk is to create a brand new state company – this one a regulation enforcement company, not the well being division – to supervise the medical marijuana trade.
“We’re nonetheless pretending that is medication. The Legislature has the authority to repair it. We have taken a few swings the final two years. I feel you will see us swinging fairly arduous this subsequent session.”