Oklahoma’s medical cannabis program continues to thrive
Last update: May 3, 2021
Oklahoma’s medical marijuana program has flourished since voters approved State Question 788 in 2018. With over 380,000 active patient licenses, and more than 10,000 registered medical cannabis businesses, Oklahoma has one of the largest programs in the country. Despite the pandemic, the medical cannabis market has been booming, and the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority reports that the state collected over $127 million in state and local taxes from medical cannabis in 2020.
While a 2020 effort to place an adult-use cannabis legalization measure on the ballot was upended by the COVID-19 pandemic, a 2022 effort is considered a possibility, though no organization has announced serious intentions to initiate a campaign yet. A bill sponsored by lawmakers in the state legislature would put a legalization referendum on the ballot, but it appears unlikely to advance in the current session.
On June 26, 2018, Oklahoma voters legalized medical marijuana! Since then, the state has become the quickest in the nation to fully implement an effective medical cannabis law.
About two months later, the health department began accepting applications from patients, caregivers, and prospective medical cannabis businesses. Licensed medical marijuana patients and caregivers are allowed to possess and grow limited amounts of cannabis and to purchase cannabis from regulated businesses. (You can read our summary of SQ 788 here.) The first sales began about a month later.
Two years after enactment, Oklahoma’s program is already one of the largest in the nation. As of September 2020, the Medical Marijuana Authority had issued licenses to over 342,000 patients and over 9,400 medical cannabis businesses.
Oklahoma City decriminalizes possession; ask state lawmakers to follow suit
On September 24, 2018, the Oklahoma City Council approved reducing the penalty for simple possession of marijuana to a fine of up to $400. Until the new law took effect on October 26, 2018, the maximum fine for possession was $1,200 and six months of jail time. Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty recommended the ordinance, explaining it would keep the city safer by allowing officers to stay on the streets.
Penalizing individuals with jail time and a criminal record for possessing small amounts of marijuana wastes law enforcement resources. It can also lead to a lifetime of harsh consequences, including denial of student financial aid, housing, employment, and professional licenses. You can find more information on decriminalization here.