Cannabis, also known as marijuana, receives a negative reputation because of its ability to get users high. The press, governments, and citizen groups leave no stone unturned to discourage people from using marijuana. Many governments around the world have even created strict marijuana laws.
Cannabis plants contain a psychoactive compound known as tetrahydrocannabinol. Commonly known as THC, the compound is responsible for the psychoactive properties of cannabis. When introduced into the bloodstream, THC can have mental and physical effects such as heightened mood, change in perception, and an increase in appetite.
The other side of the story
Marijuana, however, is not the villain it is painted. Various studies show the medical benefits of marijuana. Over the years, different research studies conducted by researchers around the world show that marijuana can be used to alleviate pain associated with different medical conditions.
Cannabis can help improve symptoms of spasticity in people with multiple sclerosis. In 2018, the FDA approved a drug containing CBD to treat severe types of epilepsy. Additionally, many researchers believe that CBD can help prevent many types of cancer, help reduce anxiety and depression, and may improve cardiovascular health.
Thanks to these studies, the attitude of governments towards cannabis has changed over the years. Both governments and the general public have become more accepting of medical marijuana. Many countries have relaxed laws surrounding cannabis.
Cannabis acceptance in the US
The US is one of the many countries that has started embracing marijuana legalization. While 29 states in the country have legalized medical marijuana, nine states allow their residents to use cannabis for recreational purposes.
Marijuana acceptance in Oklahoma
Initially, Oklahoma was not a marijuana-friendly state. In 1933, the then-Oklahoma government, as a part of the nationwide movement to restrict marijuana, banned the use of the substance in any form. In 2014, Oklahomans for Health, a 501(c) (4) organization that works in the field of citizen advocacy, introduced and circulated a petition to mobilize support in favor of marijuana legalization; however, the organization failed to get enough signatures.
2015 was a landmark year in the history of cannabis legalization in the state. In April 2015, the then-Governor of Oklahoma signed HB 2154 that allowed the sale of CBD oil with less than 0.3 percent THC.
Oklahoma: An emerging medical marijuana hotbed
Last year, the state of Oklahoma was in the news for rolling out its medical marijuana program. In a poll conducted by the state, an overwhelming 57 percent of the participants voted in favor of legalizing medical marijuana.
Oklahoma was the 30th state in the country to legalize medical marijuana. The referendum that legalized medical marijuana in the state is known as State Question 788 or SQ 788. The referendum was shaped by eminent Oklahomans. SQ 788 borrows several concepts from other states that have successfully implemented medical marijuana access programs.
After rolling out its medical marijuana program, the state immediately started issuing licenses, which is commendable given the fact that many other states that had legalized medical marijuana before Oklahoma are yet to see sales begin.
The state government has approved more than 140,000 patient licenses and 900 caregiver licenses to date. Additionally, around 1,200 growers in the state have been granted a commercial license to grow marijuana.
Marijuana cultivators are also commonly referred to as growers or producers in the state. Only businesses with a commercial license can legally grow marijuana for medical purposes. Medical marijuana growers can sell only to licensed processors and dispensers.
Businesses that want to obtain a license have to pay an application fee of $2,500. Some other conditions that need to be fulfilled are:
The applicant must be at least 25 years or older.
The applicant must be an Oklahoma resident. The members, managers, and board members should be Oklahoma residents too.
Non-Oklahoma residents should not hold more than 25 percent of the equity.
The applicant must provide a list of all individuals who have an ownership interest, business creditors, and persons with management authority. They must also provide proof of residency(to support the 75 percent residency requirement).
Thirty days prior to applying for the license, all individual applicants, owners, principal officers (of the entity), and those representing the entity must undergo a state criminal history background check.
Applicants need to submit their fingerprints.
In case the applicant does not own the proposed location, they are required to attach a copy of the lease with their application. The applicant must also provide a consent letter by the landlord, allowing the applicant to operate a medical marijuana facility on their property.
Entities need to commit that the facility won’t be constructed on tribal land. Applicants must submit proof of a bond amounting to $50,000 payable to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. They must also appoint a designee.
The applicant must not have been convicted of a felony in the last five years. Inmates or people who are currently incarcerated are not eligible.
After the applicant submits their application, it will be reviewed by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority. The body will take 14 days to review the application. Applicants who meet all the requirements will receive an approval letter with an ID card within 14 days of submission.
The commercial license is valid for one year from the date of issue. Cultivators who want to continue growing marijuana must apply for renewal before their license expires. A commercial license is non-transferable.
Getting a transportation license
Qualifying applicants can apply for a marijuana transportation license that allows the holder to transport marijuana to and from other states legally. Those transporting medical marijuana must be the business’ employees. During transit, the product must be clearly labeled and placed in such a way that onlookers cannot see what’s being transported. The licensee must ensure that their vehicle complies with specifications provided by the regulatory authority.
A commercial licensee is responsible for implementing security measures, including alarm and video surveillance systems to prevent theft. Before the application is issued, the OSDH will send a representative to inspect the proposed premises. The applicant is required to cooperate with the official and provide the necessary paperwork for the inspection.
Regulations pertaining to the proposed facility for cultivation
The cultivation must take place in an indoor building with a complete roof enclosure on a foundation or slab. The applicant is required to make sure that the foundation meets all the requirements laid down by the regulating body to ensure that the growing and processing activities are undetectable. External locks must be mandatorily equipped with biometric access controls.
The applicant must maintain the detailed plans and elevation drawings of all operational areas. They are, however, not mandated to submit these plans to the OSDH for review before construction. The facilities must conform to local building codes. Additional instructions related to the construction of floors, walls, ceilings, and installation of plumbing and lighting may apply.
Growers are required to get samples of their product tested by an accredited laboratory that holds a valid license for testing medical marijuana and marijuana-derived products by the OSDH.
Commercial growers in Oklahoma are prohibited from employing workers below 21. Growers are responsible for ensuring that all their workers undergo a detailed criminal background check. People below 18 years should not be allowed to enter the premises unless the person is a patient license holder. The minor must be accompanied by a parent or an appointed guardian.
Workers must be prohibited from consuming alcohol, medical marijuana, or marijuana-derived products on the premises. Additionally, growers cannot legally produce and sell products that are appealing to children. Some such products include gummy worms, fake cigarettes, lollipops, and animal-shaped candies/bars.
Growers are required to provide OMMA monthly reports. The purpose of the report is to collect important information such as the amount of marijuana harvested during a particular month (in pounds), the amount of marijuana sold to processors and retailers, the amount of waste, and the amount of dried/drying marijuana in stock. Reports must be submitted by the 15th of every month. Failure to submit a monthly report within 30 days of the OMMA issuing a notice will result in license revocation.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health is responsible for auditing these reports. In case a cultivator is unable to explain the deviation from accepted norms, they can face a penalty of $5000 (for first-time offenders). A second offense may result in the revocation of the license.
Rule concerning sale
A grower, under no circumstances, should sell medical marijuana directly to a medical marijuana license holder. Licensed growers are only allowed to sell to a licensed processor or retailer (at the wholesale level).
An individual with a medical marijuana license can legally possess up to:
- Six seeding cannabis plants.
- Three ounces of marijuana (up to eight ounces in their residence).
- Seventy-two ounces of edible marijuana.
- An ounce of concentrated marijuana
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