A measure to address medical marijuana diversion in Oklahoma has been signed off by Governor Kevin Stitt.
Oklahoma implemented an easily accessible medical marijuana program after voters passed State Question 788 in June 2018 legalising the licensed use, sale, and cultivation of marijuana for medicinal purposes. There are currently are more than 382,000 patients registered for the program, over 8,000 growers, approximately 2,300 dispensaries and 1,529 processors across the state.
Like any program, it has its faults and weaknesses that some seek to exploit. One is a loophole enabling a cardholder patient to buy medical marijuana products legally, but then re-sell it to someone without a card – and if caught, only face an administrative fine.
“Ultimately, this is drug dealing, but only with the equivalent offense of a traffic ticket,” said Senator Lonnie Paxton, author of SB 1367 that addresses this loophole and makes the practice a criminal offence.
Fines for a person intentionally or improperly diverting medical marijuana have been doubled on first and second offences, and a third strike could see the person’s medical marijuana card revoked. Fines for sales or transfers of medical marijuana to unauthorized persons have also been lifted; to $5,000 for the first violation and $15,000 for subsequent violations.
“I want to be very clear that we are going after the black-market medical marijuana industry and drug dealers with this bill – not college friends who are sharing marijuana product with no money exchanged,” said Senator Paxton.
SB 1367 was sent to Governor Stitt on May 9, and signed it into law on May 11.
In other cannabis news out of Oklahoma, Governor Stitt has also signed off on Senate Bill 1543, which will see the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) become an independent state agency as of November 1 this year.
“Making OMMA a stand-alone agency is necessary to deal with the complexity of regulation and compliance of the expanding medical marijuana industry,” said co-author of the legislation, House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols. “This will help us cut down on the black market that threatens the wellbeing of Oklahomans and properly regulate the legitimate businesses approved by voters.”
Further information on Oklahoma’s medical marijuana program can be found here.