Oklahoma lawmaker seeks to exert local control over medical marijuana growers

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An Oklahoma lawmaker filed a bill to try to increase local control over and thus curb the number of medical marijuana growers in what is arguably the most wide-open MMJ market in the country.

The proposed measure by state Rep. Todd Russ would require prospective cultivators to file applications by June 30 of each year in the county that they wish to locate in, according to Oklahoma City TV station KOKH.

Each county then would set a date of every other year for its commissioners to approve or deny applications.

If denied, a business would have to wait five years to file another application in that county.

Current law requires state regulators to act on an application within two weeks.

It’s unclear whether the proposed measure will gain traction in the Legislature, which begins its session Feb. 7.

Ross told KOKH that he is concerned about the “very loose restrictions” on cannabis business licensing and how the industry is burdening local water supplies, electric utilities, law enforcement and others.

The state has a population of only 4 million people yet had 8,306 active licensed growers as of Jan. 6, according to the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority.

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“We must give our county residents this measure of local control over how many grow houses are allowed to operate within their borders,” Russ told the TV station.

“This affects public safety, their access to public utilities, their ability to fair and equitable collection of taxes from property owners and other issues.”