Oklahoma said, “Yes!” State Question 788 passed on June 26th. The first medical marijuana clinic in the state, the Tulsa Higher Care Clinic, was already prepped and ready and opened just one day later. But not all the rules are in place just yet.

Officials met in this past week to address medical marijuana emergency rules. The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority is to be the new governing agency for cannabis is the state. Dispensary applications accepted Aug. 25.

Advice to those in the Medical Marijuana Industry: Be Patient

Voters came out in droves for the election – casting more votes than during the 2014 general election. Now, that medical marijuana is legal, the state must get busy busy implementing the legal framework. The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) released a statement concerning SQ788. The statement is encouraging to the industry. Consumers can go to omma.ok.gov for information. They ask that people don’t visit their offices though to ask questions. The Department concluded its statement with the following:

“The application process will be available at the required time and will be enhanced in the coming months.. It may take some time to fully implement all of the steps recommended in preparation for this new program, but we will continue to work to meet the letter of the law and to protect the health and safety of all Oklahomans.”

Law Passes, But Not Everyone Seems on Board

The Governor of Oklahoma, Mary Fallin has never been a supporter of medical marijuana. She repeatedly voiced her concerns throughout the campaign. Now, her decision to not hold a special session after the law passing is raising eyebrows. The cannabis industry wants a special session to ensure implementation goes smoothly. One group, New Health Solutions Oklahoma sent a 4-page memo outlining why they believe such a session is critical for Oklahoma medical marijuana patients and future dispensary owners.

The group feels that developing a state marijuana program and its related rules and regulations, takes a lot more time than Gov. Fallin is planning on having the legislature spend. Furthermore, the group added that the rules already included in SQ788 are not comprehensive enough and don’t cover other critical issues within the cannabis industry (e.g. labs and inventory tracking systems). Without these in place, the group feels that implementation will stall, and the black market will gain a foothold.

Emergency Rules are Enough for Right Now, Says Gov.

The group wants cannabis conditions statute-based and not merely agency-regulated. The Oklahoma State Board of Health released an updated set of rules for medical marijuana on July 8th. These rules are in addition to the emergency ones previously released prior to the Oklahoma vote. The Oklahoma State Medical Association also wanted three more recommendations added:

  1. Eliminating smokable cannabis as is the case in other states. Instead, dispensaries should only offer medical marijuana products that are more easily measured for doses, such as certain edibles, oils and sublingual delivery methods.
  2. Requiring pharmacists to be in the dispensaries and part of the approval process.
  3. Limiting the initial number of dispensaries and locations to 50, as requested by the cannabis industry.

Signed, Sealed and Delivered…and a Bunch Added

The Oklahoma State Board of Health reviewed and accepted the rules on July 10th. One of the major rules approved bans the sale of smokable marijuana at dispensaries. Additionally, the rules require a pharmacist at dispensaries. Already, proponents of medical marijuana in Oklahoma are voicing concerns over the updated rules. These two stipulations were not originally in the emergency rules.

Fallin had previously announced she would hold a special session if SQ788 passed. Now, she says that is not necessary. A few highlights from Fallin’s official statement:

“After conferring with House and Senate leaders, we believe a special legislative session is not necessary to implement provisions of State Question 788. The Oklahoma State Department of Health has developed emergency rules that will ensure the health and safety of Oklahomans as well as being fair and balanced for the marijuana industry.

The voters have spoken, and it’s important that our state has a responsible system up and running to meet the deadlines outlined in State Question 788. If circumstances develop that adjustments to the Health Department rules are necessary, those can be addressed when lawmakers return in regular session early next year.”

Fallin’s Medical Marijuana Decision Risky?

Experts in the industry fear too little regulation makes the Oklahoma market risky for investors and dispensaries. They want specifics. And they feel now is the best time to address these. Some interpret Fallin’s move in an even more negative light. Some think it is all about politics.

By not holding a special session, some believe it is an attempt to push off real implementation and cause delays. This is also an off-season for elections, so some believe that no one minds delays because they aren’t seeking reelection. A few other states have been brought into the conversation too, because they passed similar cannabis bills and their implementation has lingered for years (e.g. Massachusetts, Maine, Louisiana, and Alaska).

Nothing to Worry About

The Governor’s office though, still insists that a lack of a special session is actually in the best interests of the people of Oklahoma. The Department of Health must start applications by July 26th. A recent statement by the Governor in response to the no-session announcement, states that,

Emergency rules are the most promising path to success at this time. The Health Department has been working with 17 other agencies the past three months on emergency rules to develop a medical and proper regulatory framework for implementing State Question 788. This is much quicker and more cost-efficient than attempting to go through a special legislative session during an election cycle, and it is more likely to be successful in putting a framework in place in this very short time period and to get the process actually started as required by the law passed by the people.”

There’s No Better Time

Markets are emerging across the country. Avoid the tedious and time-consuming process of figuring out which one to pursue by calling Pinnacle Consultation today. We live and breath the industry. Let us guide you to the best investment, dispensary, or cultivation opportunity. Call (719) 330-5301.