Oklahoma was one of the recent states to legalize medical marijuana with the law officially going into effect today. However, the state is still not ready. The infrastructure of the industry is not in place and, as of this time, no licenses have been distributed. The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, who operate under the state’s Health Department, is still releasing information about the application process. They will not be accepting any applications to grow, process, test and sell medical marijuana until August 25. This means that the industry itself is still a very long way off from being in place.
The Long Road Ahead
Once they begin to receive applications, they will have to go through a lengthy distribution process. Facilities will need to be inspected once a company receives its license. This can take some time to organize as well. It then takes between 12 and 16 weeks to grow the plants once the facilities have been approved. Then comes testing, processing, packaging and distribution to dispensaries. Only then will patients be able to purchase the plant. This may take several more months.
Law Enforcement Action Against Cannabis Patients
As it stands, individuals who are found with under one and a half ounces of the herb yet can claim a medical purpose, will receive a misdemeanor and a $400 fine. Police have made it clear that until the new regulations are officially in place, they will continue to treat marijuana as an illegal substance.
According to ABC Tulsa, Sgt. Shane Tuell said that “state officials are still convening regarding the regulations and implementation of SQ788. Without a State issued medical marijuana license, possession and distribution of marijuana is illegal. As such, the Tulsa Police Department will continue to uphold the law as it relates to marijuana. This is a fluid situation and the Tulsa Police Department will be following the State’s decision closely for when the regulations and law changes, and licenses are issued.”
A Tumultuous Start
Some controversy has surrounded the Board of Health’s emergency laws. For example, the State Board of Pharmacy’s executive director, Chelsea Church, was fired after allegedly trying to bribe one of the Board of Health’s top lawyers before they voted on the emergency laws. Then, the board added last minute amendments, banning smokables and stating that a pharmacist would need to manage dispensaries. Later, Gov. Mary Fallin, under the advisement of Attorney General Mike Hunter, asked the board to remove the last-minute amendments.
All in all, Oklahoma’s medical marijuana program, while making strides forward, has a way to go before it settles into a solid infrastructure that patients can use and rely upon. In the meantime, many old regulations surrounding marijuana are in place despite the state hitting the legalization date. Oklahoma is now one of 30 states in the U.S. that have legalized the plant for medicinal purposes. 8 states have legalized the plant for recreational use. As it stands, over 80 percent of Americans are in favor of legalizing the plant for medicinal purposes and red states like Oklahoma are paving the way for other more conservative states to follow.