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Changes In the Wind

by Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish | Cannabis Lawyer

Has the pandemic given Oklahoma legislators too much time to ponder what changes they would like to see in Oklahoma’s medical marijuana program? Perhaps. As of January 22, 2021, they have filed a combined number of approximately 38 bills (some are only one-page titles and several are arguably redundant) relating to medical marijuana in some form or fashion.

Authors of Bills Filed

Authors in the House of Representatives filing bills relating to medical marijuana include Representatives May, (Josh) West, Roberts (Dustin), Davis, Frix, Kannady, Echols, Ford, Pfeiffer, Sneed, West (Rick), Fetgatter, Townley, and Humphrey. Authors in the Senate of bills filed that relate to medical marijuana include Dahm, Paxton, Daniels, Standridge, Rader, Bergstrom, Leewright, Montgomery, Taylor, and Hicks.

Whether some of these bills actually make it out of committee and to a floor vote in either legislative body, much less approval by both bodies and signed into law by the Governor, all remains to be seen. However, it is important to track what has been filed and each bill’s ultimate fate in the upcoming 2021 legislative session.

Highlights

The bills filed by the above-named state legislators cover a plethora of topics related to Oklahoma’s medical marijuana program. Descriptions of several substantive bills filed in the state House of Representatives include the following: revenue and taxation changes (House Bill [“HB”] 1908); delivery by dispensaries to certain private residences (HB1960); referendum to Oklahoma voters for the “Oklahoma Adult Access to Marijuana Act of 2021 (HB1961); and clarification of OMMA’s duties and functions with amendments to S.Q. 788 via the “Oklahoma Marijuana Act of 2021” (HB2004).

Congress Boards the MJ Research Train, by Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish

Descriptions of some substantive bills filed in the state Senate include the following: directing OMMA to contract with one or more third-party vendors to provide licensing services (Senate Bill [“SB] 522); criminal penalties for OMMA-licensed patients who carry or use firearms when “under the influence of medical marijuana” and additional preclusions for Oklahomans eligible for a handgun license under the Oklahoma Self-Defense Act (SB442); amending current restrictions on smoking medical marijuana in certain areas including: airport restrictions on medical marijuana use “in any area that is open to or used by the public” indoors or outdoors if within 175 feet from an entrance, same as to an “indoor workplace”, basically designating all state-owned, county or municipal-owned buildings and educational facilities as tobacco and marijuana free (SB445); modifying workplace drug and alcohol procedures and safety-sensitive positions, including additional rights of medical marijuana patients (SB459); amending definitions in the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana and Patient Protection Act (“Unity Act”) concerning testing laboratory licenses, requiring testing of medical marijuana waste prior to transfer and separation of such waste into waste batches, and clarifying or revising certain definitions (SB680); permitting pharmacists to compound products containing marijuana or THC in the event marijuana becomes legal under federal law (SB696); and basically prohibiting schools and landlords from refusing to enroll or lease, respectively, to OMMA-licensed medical marijuana patients, unless doing so would cause the loss of monetary of licensing-related benefits under federal law (SB1033).

As the 2021 legislative session progresses, it will be interesting to see whether Oklahoma’s legislature chooses to avoid the traps that have snared so many other states’ medical and adult-use marijuana programs—chief among them over-regulation, over-taxation, and unduly burdensome regulatory requirements with little, if any, benefit to medical marijuana patients and state-licensed medical marijuana businesses.

So…what’s the take-away?

Once again, it’s going to be a very busy spring here in the Wild, Wild West.

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