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 FREE ENTERPRISE REIGNS IN OKLAHOMA’S MMJ SYSTEM! 

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 FREE ENTERPRISE REIGNS IN OKLAHOMA’S MMJ SYSTEM! 

by Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish, Cannabis Lawyer1 

1 Information contained herein provides general information related to the law and does not provide legal advice. It is recommended that readers consult their personal lawyer if they want legal advice. No attorney-client or confidential relationship exists or is formed between you and Ms. Parrish as a result of this article. 

In the final days of 2021, a liberal newspaper on the East Coast published an offensive piece about Oklahoma and its medical marijuana system. Of course, anything one reads today in The New York Times (“NYT”) should be taken with a grain of salt, but this particular article, How Oklahoma Became a Marijuana Boom State by Simon Romero with photos credited to Brett Deering, published December 29, 2021, is especially offensive, even for that periodical. As a third generation Oklahoma attorney, I take such insulting words about my home state personally. 

The article epitomizes rubbish spewed by those who consider themselves the elite, the refined, the educated, and the holier-than-thou liberals who look down their proverbial noses at “poor”, uneducated, “trailer park” Oklahomans. Yes, the writer of the article has the audacity to use those words. The very reduction of such beliefs to words frankly flies all over this author. Clearly, Romero and his cohorts at the NYT know nothing of Oklahoma, of its hard-working people, many of whom are in fact better educated than they—whether it be through state or Ivy League institutions or the difficult, enduring lessons learned through living life itself. Indeed, many Oklahomans elected to return home after forays into other states upon the realization that Oklahoma is, in fact, an incredible place to live and work, enhanced by none other than its people.

A good lesson to learn from Oklahoma is that one’s value is not calculated by net worth, institutional degrees, or the landscape where one lives. 

The above-referenced article in the NYT, not unlike most of that paper’s content these days, is riddled with pejorative words and phrases, including those quoted above and, additionally, “old chicken coops”, “trailer parks”, “Pentecostal church” (not that a Pentecostal church is negative, but the NYT writer clearly intends that it be construed as such), “mobile homes”, “culture shock”, and unsupported claims that Oklahoma is “a state that remains among the poorest in the country” with “pressures on the state’s prisons”. These statements are not only appalling, but also are indicative of prevalent, misguided views that divide this nation—and here, I speak of America, not the Sooner Nation. 

In light of such rubbish clearly intended to depict Oklahoma and its hard-working people, including those in the medical marijuana industry (public and private), in a derogatory manner, it is important to take an unbiased assessment of Oklahoma’s outstanding medical marijuana (“MMJ”) system. What better time to do so than on the last day of calendar year 2021, the date of this writing. 

Oklahoma continues to stand alone in this country as the only free market medical program, enacted by the people and for the patients. State Question 788 (“SQ 788”) was passed on June 26, 2018, making medical marijuana legal in the state. The medical program was implemented in record time by dedicated state employees working overtime and likely underpaid, when the 

© 2021 Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish. All rights reserved. 

Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (“OMMA”) launched its online application process for patients and businesses on Saturday, August 25, 2018. 

Today, three short years after SQ 788 was passed, Oklahoma’s medical program continues to thrive in the face of inevitable obstacles—some anticipated and some not. And as human nature long ago established, when someone – or something – is successful and stands out, critics load and lock. In case you are wondering, yes, this is a nod to Oklahoma’s Second Amendment Sanctuary status. 

SQ 788 established a simple medical marijuana program with reasonable license application fees allowing everyday people with entrepreneurial dreams and a passion for the healing properties of cannabis to enter Oklahoma’s industry and thrive. What a blessed reality! 

To reiterate, Oklahomans created something unique to the cannabis industry—namely, the country’s only free market medical marijuana program. There are no qualifying conditions for medical marijuana patients here, and, in addition to the original adult patient, minor patient, and caregiver licenses, today short-term licenses, reciprocal patient cards, and temporary patient licenses are available. 

Mercifully, OMMA and Oklahoma’s Legislature have upheld the spirit of SQ 788 for the most part, refusing to smother the fledgling industry with over-regulation. OMMA officials demonstrated a remarkable ability to implement Oklahoma’s medical program in record time—a mere 30 days after passage of SQ 788 in late June 2018, to the first day of applications in late August 2018. Initially, OMMA had only 14 days to accept or reject any license application. It is difficult to comprehend what the working environment must have looked like during those early days. While the 14-day period for patient licenses remains unchanged, today the period within which OMMA can grant, deny, or reject a commercial business license application (“denials” differ from “rejections”, the latter of which can be rectified through resubmissions) is 90 days—a much more reasonable time period for such a process. 

Looking back, it is difficult to imagine how OMMA onboarded the entire application process in a mere 30 days and managed to process the plethora of patient, caregiver, and commercial business license applications in 14 days. OMMA’s dedicated state employees somehow managed to make it work, to the great benefit of Oklahoma patients and entrepreneurs. OMMA is “the little engine that could,” in a state where the wind still comes sweeping down the plain and the waving wheat, with some weed now from outdoor grows, can sure smell sweet. 

Today, it is interesting to reflect on how Oklahoma’s medical program has evolved and to contemplate what the future holds. It has been said that Oklahoma basically has an adult use system, given that there are no preexisting condition requirements and that doctors who will write potential patients a medical marijuana recommendation are plentiful. Perhaps this observation is correct. However, there are limits on how much medical marijuana a patient can possess, and patient licenses are required to legally purchase and consume medical marijuana products here. 

The NYT article correctly notes the plethora of medical marijuana businesses in Oklahoma, and that prices have decreased due to increased supply. However, here in Oklahoma we respect and 

© 2021 Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish. All rights reserved. 

encourage free enterprise and capitalism. The law of supply and demand is a fundamental tenet of both, and while some may choose to ignore those principles, we here in Oklahoma applaud and support them. After all, they have formed the backbone of America’s economy since its inception. 

While the NYT piece opines that “growers in Oklahoma . . . are feeding illicit markets around the country” – an assertion made with no objective criteria or documentation whatsoever, as is customary for that paper now, it is no secret that efforts by OMMA, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, and the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics have intensified to ensure this does not occur. Additionally, the scale of any Oklahoma illicit grows would assuredly pale in comparison with other states that boast more mature markets where production of illicit product has been the norm for decades, and here, we have a statute that actually prohibits ownership of agricultural land by foreign nationals. Hmmm…. 

So, what’s the take-away? 

Free enterprise still reigns in Oklahoma’s medical marijuana system, and when it draws fire from a liberal paper back East, that is a sure sign something is incredibly successful! 

P.S. 

It’s going to be a very busy spring here in the Wild, Wild West!I 

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