Chart: Oklahoma medical marijuana sales far exceed expectations

In less than a year, Oklahoma’s medical marijuana industry went from nonexistent to one of the largest and most valuable cannabis markets in the nation.

According to tax receipts released by the Oklahoma Tax Commission, sales of medical marijuana in the state stood at just over $258 million through the first 10 months of 2019 and are on pace to eclipse $350 million by the end of the year – far surpassing analysts’ wildest expectations.

Oklahoma’s launch far outpaces that of other medical cannabis markets – including Illinois, Maryland and Ohio – with sales figures more akin to a recreational launch.

Patient counts have skyrocketed throughout 2019 as well, up to nearly 210,000 as of Nov. 1. That’s more than eightfold what the registries had at the end of 2018 when patient counts hovered around 25,000.

More than 5% of Oklahoma’s population is now registered as medical cannabis patients, exceeding any other program in the nation.

Oklahoma’s industry also is as close to a free-market system as there is in the U.S. cannabis industry, which has spurred the program’s red-hot start.

Under State Question 788, the bill legalizing MMJ in Oklahoma:

  • There are no caps on the number of business licenses that can be awarded.
  • Doctors are allowed to recommend the product for any condition they deem fit.
  • Municipalities are prohibited from enacting zoning restrictions to prevent dispensaries from opening.

These business-friendly regulations stand in stark contrast to tight controls on qualifying conditions and the number of licensed businesses allowed to operate in most other U.S. markets.

That’s prompted thousands of entrepreneurs to launch their own cannabis businesses in Oklahoma. As of mid-November, the state issued licenses for:

  • 2,168 dispensaries
  • 1,415 processors
  • 4,931 growers

It’s unclear how many of these licensees are operational.

But if only 2.5% of the 2,168 dispensary license holders actually opened for business, they would result in the same number of dispensaries that currently exist in Illinois (55).

By the time it’s mature, Oklahoma’s MMJ market could be worth up to $700 million annually.

While that would have seemed unthinkable just a year ago, the speed at which the state’s industry reached its current size is unparalleled.

Eli McVey can be reached at [email protected]

5 comments on “Chart: Oklahoma medical marijuana sales far exceed expectations
  1. John Munno on

    55 Dispensaries? I see that many on the way to work. We have more dispensaries than Starbucks by a factor of 10 or 20. A real Red State that stands for freedom.

  2. 918788 on

    I live in Tulsa, and it is crazy right now. There are dispensaries all over the place and new ones are still opening all the time. There are more dispensaries than QTs and Walgreens combined. The authors of 788 did a great job and the state has largely stayed out of the way. At first, the health department tried to pass some very restricted rules but the voters stood up to the state, and, surprisingly, the state backed down. We now have the best medical program in the country. Unlike states like Arkansas with a heavily regulated system, Oklahoma has left it up to the market. Arkansas’ program only allows 32 dispensaries statewide. while Oklahoma has hundreds and hundreds of dispensaries. Oklahoma’s program is not only business-friendly, it is also patient-friendly with extremely easy access with no qualifying conditions. And the state is making a lot of money in revenue. It’s a win-win situation and Oklahoma did it the right way. States that plan to legalize medical cannabis in the future could do much worse than to model their programs after Oklahoma’s excellent program.

  3. Gar Con on

    This is exactly why we need to leave the market alone and not pass any new state questions regarding our marijuana market. They are going to try and limit us and push in laws with more taxes on it. They always try and make it sound like a good thing but they would not want to change it if they didn’t have anything to gain. Leave 788 alone keep what we got ppl.

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