Oklahoma’s medical marijuana program could become less restrictive – again

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Oklahoma’s new medical marijuana industry – which became more restrictive a week ago after regulators implemented new rules that included a ban on smokable flower – appears headed back to a more wide-open structure as conceived by the voter-approved initiative.

And state regulators are expected to begin accepting dispensary applications next month.

Here’s what you need to know:
  • State legislative leaders in Oklahoma have appointed a 13-member working group of lawmakers to recommend regulations in the aftermath of intense criticism targeting emergency rules that would have restrained the potential $100 million-$150 million market.
  • Separately, the state’s Board of Health will likely hold a special meeting in the next couple of weeks to consider a new draft of emergency rules, Tony Sellars, director of communications for the Oklahoma Department of Health, told Marijuana Business Daily on Friday.

Here’s what led to the new efforts to revise the rules:

  • The Oklahoma Board of Health last week approved two last-minute changes that came under fire for not reflecting the voter-approved MMJ initiative: a ban on the sales of smokable marijuana and a requirement that each dispensary have a licensed pharmacist on staff.
  • Medical marijuana advocates filed two separate lawsuits to block the emergency rules.
  • Oklahoma’s attorney general said the Board of Health had overstepped its authority and should reconvene to pass less restrictive rules.
  • Gov. Mary Fallin, who had signed off on the emergency rules, reversed herself, saying the regulations should be rescinded because the public didn’t have enough time to weigh in.

The legislative working group consists of nine Republicans and four Democrats from the state House and Senate. The group plans to convene a series of public meetings on MMJ beginning next week.

The initiative, approved last month, required the state to have applications for MMJ patients and dispensaries available within 30 days of passage.

Application packets will be ready for download on the state’s site as scheduled on July 26, according to Sellars, and a system will be in place to start accepting applications by Aug. 25.

“We are bound by the language in SQ788 (the voter-approved initiative) to meet the required deadlines and our work is continuing,” Sellars wrote in an email to MJBizDaily.

– Associated Press and Marijuana Business Daily