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In Oklahoma, Outlaws Find the Wild West of Cannabis

By Tristan Jackson

Criminal outfits have flooded the country’s most free-slinging, medical market in Oklahoma – a state commonly referred to as the “wild west” of the cannabis industry. Thus, adding another obstacle for small growers. And is anyone truly surprised?

Mark Woodward, Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics (OBN) spokesman, dissected the cause of this recent uptick in crime when he said, “We didn’t really have these issues until this April. COVID affected a lot of people, the business licenses here are cheap, the land is cheap, it was just the perfect mix for these criminal operations to start popping up all over – buying up all of the land almost overnight.”

Oklahoma narcotics agents have raided three dozen grows – containing anywhere from 20,000 to 60,000 plants, in the past few months, according to Woodward. This sudden surge of criminal activity is being noticed throughout the state’s medical marijuana industry.

“The biggest thing we have to worry about is making sure the weed we buy is legal and has legit paperwork to back it up,” said Kobe Adams, part-owner of the Native Rootz Dispensary in Caddo County. “A lot of these illegal grows are just shipping their product across state lines or using illegal paperwork to sell their weed, which drives the price down for the entire market. It really floods the market for growers.”

Legal cultivators statewide already encounter numerous challenges, such as strong competition from rival businesses, as well as cumbersome and costly regulation.  Jodie Klinglesmith, a Western Oklahoma craft grower, is annoyed by what black market operators are able to avoid.

“We legal cannabis growers are following every law and regulation that pops up,” Klinglesmith said. “Meanwhile, spending hundreds, if not thousands of dollars just to make sure we all stay in compliance. For example, our seed-to-sale software, our tags, our license fees; and these are all of the things that the black market scoots around … The black market crooks are trucking product all over and selling it for cheap.”

Illegal operations are reportedly making as much as $4,000 per pound on shipments to New York, Woodward claimed. An average pound of weed in Oklahoma sells for $1,500.

The presence of the black market has also contributed to a further divide between legal players and OBN. “Every day is not a guarantee,” said Donald Gies, an Oklahoma City attorney. “You can play by the rules and still get raided.” In early August, OBN agents raided the farm of a grower represented by Gies, who claimed damages from the raid were in excess of $10 million. Agency authorities later admitted there had been a mistake, prompting Gies to warn, “If I’m the small grower, my biggest concern is not getting my plants stepped on.”

Woodward, however, is adamant his agency is supportive of the legal sector. “We really want the legal operators to know that we’re not on some kind of witch hunt to take them down,” he stressed. “We want to take down these very serious criminal organizations that harm the legal growers, and our consumers.”

Black market cannabis, meanwhile, will continue to hit growers in the pocketbook. Untested weed could also potentially infiltrate dispensaries statewide through forged paperwork. All of which has prompted Klinglesmith to simply conclude, “Black market weed just sucks.”

Oklahoma: New OMMA Director Named

OKLAHOMA:  Oklahoma State Department of Health Commissioner Lance Frye is naming Dr. Kelly Williams the Director of the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority. Williams is a lifelong Oklahoman with a Psychology degree from Oklahoma City University and both a Masters and PhD in Quantitative Psychology from the University Of Oklahoma. Prior to joining the state, she was Oklahoma City University’s Institutional Research Director.

Dr. Williams joined the OMMA in February of 2020 as Deputy Director and was named Interim Director in August. Her background in analytics has helped to make the agency highly productive in an ever changing industry. She has increased compliance activity with the advent of the Quality Assurance Lab and the recently announced Seed to Sale tracking system that will be implemented in the coming month.

“We are working on a variety of initiatives to address industry, patient, and regulator concerns. In the year I have spent at OMMA, I have been learning about the agency and the industry in order to set some goals for the agency and to move it forward.” Dr. Williams added, ”I work with a wonderful team that is deeply committed to patient safety.”

Dr. Williams follows former Director Travis Kirkpatrick, who now serves as a Deputy Commissioner of Health. He also praised Dr. Williams and her ability; “This program has seen exponential positive growth and change which I know will continue under Dr. Williams’ direction. I trust her leadership skills to work with the talented staff and implement the changes necessary to balance public safety and business continuity as we take the next transformative step forward for the nearly 400,000 licensees we serve.”

Oklahoma: New OMMA Emergency Rules Now In Effect

OKLAHOMA: New emergency rules for all Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Agency businesses and patients have gone into effect Oct. 15, 2020. The rules have been signed by the Governor.

The new emergency rules contain changes for reporting, testing standards and the contents of the laboratory Certificates of Analysis. The rules and a summary are available on the OMMA website. The rules reflect our latest efforts to help build a safer industry for businesses and patients in our state

The new rules are effective immediately and can be found at https://omma.ok.gov/rules-regulations.

Metrc Awarded Oklahoma Seed To Sale Contract

OKLAHOMA: The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority has signed a contract with Metrc, a national company in 14 states, for the implementation of a statewide seed-to-sale tracking system. The contract creates a system to track marijuana plants and products from a plant’s growth stage through sale to patients. It serves as part of OMMA’s larger efforts to ensure accountability and safety within the state’s medical marijuana industry.

OSDH Names Twelve Member Medical Marijuana Food Safety Standards Board –

OMMA Interim Director Dr. Kelly Williams said “The seed-to-sale system will greatly expand our compliance capabilities and improve the effectiveness and speed of any future recall efforts. It will also allow us to detect unusual patterns that may indicate product diversion.”

Metrc offers integration features with many seed-to-sale software systems used at an individual-level by licensees, and all commercial licensees in the state will be required to either integrate with or input their information into the state’s seed-to-sale system.

Dr. Williams added, “We know that businesses will have many questions in the coming weeks, and we will answer them as quickly as possible.” OMMA will also keep the public updated as the system is implemented. It is expected to take up to six months.

First Half 2020 Tax Revenues Top $39 Million From Oklahoma Medical Marijuana

OKLAHOMA:  According to statistics released by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA), the Sooner State generated more than $39 Million in tax revenues from its robust medical marijuana program in the first half of 2020.

Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority Names New Director

OKLAHOMA:  The deputy director of the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority will serve as interim director of the authority, officials announced Friday.

Kelly Williams replaces Travis Kirkpatrick, who was recently named deputy commissioner of prevention and preparedness at the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

Kirkpatrick, who will oversee the OMMA from his new position, chose Williams for the interim post. Kirkpatrick had been named director of the authority in January after serving as interim director for about three months.

“This is a young agency and we have seen massive growth over the past two years,” Williams said in a statement. “I look forward to the challenges and the rewards of growing the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority into an agency that will make Oklahomans proud.”

Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority Says No To Pot Slushy Machines

OKLAHOMA: The OMMA has received multiple inquiries regarding the processing and dispensing of marijuana-infused slushies on-site at medical marijuana dispensaries.  It is the OMMA’s position that marijuana-infused slushies are unlikely to meet requirements set forth in Oklahoma statutes and rules, including, but not limited to:  

  • All products must be in child-resistant packages. Generally, this means the package must be difficult for a 5-year-old to open; opaque; and, if intended for multiple uses (for example, containing multiple servings), capable of being resealed while remaining child-resistant. [See 63 O.S. 427.2 and OAC 310:681-1-4]
  • The medical marijuana production batch that must be tested is the finished product. In this instance, the finished product is the slushy mixture to be dispensed to patients/caregivers, not the syrup. If water, ice, or any other substance is added to the product, additional testing is required to ensure the product is safe for consumption and final-product labeling is accurate.  [See OAC 310:681-1-4 and OAC 310:681, Subchapters 7 and 8]
  •  Dispensaries are not allowed to alter, package, or label products. In addition, dispensaries must refuse to accept or return any medical marijuana products that have not been properly tested, packaged, and labeled by a licensed processor. [See OAC 310:681-1-4 and OAC 310:681-7-1(b)]

Additionally, slushies are considered food products and must be compliant with the Oklahoma State Department of Health food regulations. For more information, please visit the  OSDH Consumer Health Service Food website.

Oklahoma Mandatory Marijuana Products Testing To Begin July 1st

OKLAHOMA: Beginning July 1st, all marijuana product sold by a grower or processor will be required to be tested by an Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) licensed laboratory.

The mandatory testing requirements were created by the Oklahoma Legislature and went into effect on Nov 1st, 2019. Since that time, the OMMA has been creating the rules and guidelines under the guidance of Laboratory Oversight Manager Lee Rhodes.

The OMMA has ten fully licensed laboratories in the state. There are many more in different stages of the licensing process. A fully licensed lab will have not only a license from OMMA but have been inspected by the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics.

Current requirements include:

  • Any dispensary customer may request the certificate of analysis from the dispensary. The document can be kept in either a paper or electronic format.
  • A processor or grower shall retain test results and related records for at least two years.

A list of the fully licensed labs can be found on the OMMA website.

Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority Sets April 1, 2020 Laboratory Deadline

Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority

OKLAHOMA: Beginning April 1st, all marijuana product sold by a grower or processor will be required to be tested by an Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) licensed laboratory.

The mandatory testing requirements were created by the Oklahoma Legislature and went into effect on Nov 1st, 2019. Since that time, the OMMA has been creating the rules and guidelines under the guidance of Laboratory Oversight Manager Lee Rhodes.

The OMMA has ten fully licensed laboratories in the state. There are many more in different stages of the licensing process. A fully licensed lab will have not only a license from OMMA but have been inspected by the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics.

Current requirements include:

  • Any dispensary customer may request the certificate of analysis from the dispensary. The document can be kept in either a paper or electronic format.
  • A processor or grower shall retain test results and related records for at least two years.

A list of the fully licensed labs can be found on the OMMA website.

Kirkpatrick Named Director Of Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority

OKLAHOMA: Oklahoma native Travis Kirkpatrick is the new director of the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority. Kirkpatrick has served as interim director for the last 90 days. Health Commissioner Gary Cox said he made the decision based on Kirkpatrick’s leadership at the authority over the last few months.

“We are excited about the leadership of Travis and his focus on being an efficient and effective organization that serves the citizens of the state,” said Cox. “During his three months, Kirkpatrick has reopened the call center, which is now handling approximately 300 calls a day, hired a compliance manager to ensure the dispensaries across the state are in compliance with state laws, and worked to open the lines of communication with the business community and the patients.”

Kirkpatrick praised the staff for its passion and dedication saying “that is something that drives me every day as I seek to innovate and lead us toward the goals we have been provided by the Oklahoma State Department of Health leadership and the Governor. My goal is to continue to work with the patients, dispensary owners and growers as this authority meets the guidelines set out by the voters and by the Legislature.”

The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority was created by a vote of the people, July 26, 2018.  The state question allowed for both licenses to sell and to purchase medical marijuana with a physician’s certification. Additional regulatory authority was written into the “unity bill” passed by the legislature just months before Kirkpatrick’s arrival. There are currently more than 246,000 patient, caregiver, grower, processor, dispensary, and transportation licenses for marijuana in Oklahoma, all handled by OMMA.