Oklahoma’s medical marijuana program has flourished since voters approved State Question 788 in 2018. With over 340,000 active patient licenses, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority reported in September that the program has generated over $45 million in state and local taxes from medical marijuana sales so far in 2020, already far outpacing the $30 million collected in 2019.
Earlier this year, Gov. Kevin Stitt declined to approve a major marijuana policy reform bill. In May, after winning overwhelming bipartisan approval from the Oklahoma Legislature, HB 3228 was vetoed by the governor. And though marijuana policy reform advocates made a last-second push to urge legislators to override Gov. Stitt’s veto, lawmakers adjourned the legislative session without taking action on the bill.
The legislation would have allowed out-of-state medical marijuana patients to obtain a renewable three-month temporary license and permit dispensaries to deliver medical marijuana to registered patients who live within a 10-mile radius. It also would have eased penalties and removed jail time for first-time offenses for individuals found in possession of marijuana without a medical marijuana license.
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.