WHAT WASTE DISPOSAL LICENSES MEAN FOR MEDICAL MARIJUANA BUSINESSES

by Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish, Cannabis Lawyer1

The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (“OMMA”) is encouraging qualified
Oklahomans to apply for one of up to ten waste disposal licenses. To date, no licenses have been
granted, but expect to see medical marijuana waste disposal businesses coming to a community
near you by spring. What exactly does this mean for medical marijuana businesses? In short, the
appropriate method for medical marijuana waste disposal will cease to be an arguably gray area.2
Senate Bill 882, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Waste Management Act, provides for
the issuance of ten waste disposal licenses at a cost of $5,000 each and contemplates the option for
more licenses to be authorized after the first year, if necessary. These licensees will become the
third-party companies authorized to dispose of “medical marijuana waste”. Medical marijuana
waste disposal facility permits will also be issued, at a cost of five hundred dollars ($500.00) each.
Similar to ownership requirements for Oklahoma medical marijuana commercial licensees,
at least 75% of the ownership interests in the entities that apply for a medical marijuana waste
disposal license must be owned by Oklahoma residents. License applications must also be
supported by proof of sufficient liability insurance and financial responsibility, with minimum
coverage amounts of $5,000,000.00 each occurrence, in Commercial General Liability and also in
Pollution Liability insurance. Additionally, applicants must have a current permit from the
Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality.

The holder of a medical marijuana waste disposal license is not required to obtain a medical
marijuana transporter license to transport medical marijuana waste. OMMA’s current rules provide that the “waste disposal facility license” authorizes the licensee “to possess, transport, and dispose
of medical marijuana waste. The waste disposal facility license shall be issued to the location
submitted by the applicant that is first approved by the Department.” The current rules also address
the “waste disposal facility permit”, stating that it is “a permit issued by the Department [OMMA]
to a waste disposal licensee to possess, transport, and dispose of medical marijuana waste at the
location submitted on the permit application.” Waste disposal facility permits are required for each
approved waste disposal facility operated by a waste disposal facility licensee.
So, what does this mean for medical marijuana businesses? OMMA’s current rules and
Oklahoma’s Waste Management Act require all commercial licensees to utilize a licensed medical
marijuana waste disposal service to process all medical marijuana waste they generate. Thus, any
arguably gray areas concerning appropriate waste disposal will vanish when OMMA licenses the
first waste disposal service.

Significantly for Oklahoma’s medical marijuana businesses, “root balls, stems, fan leaves,
seeds, and the mature stalks or fiber produced from such stalks at the license premises” are not
considered “medical marijuana waste”. Therefore, OMMA’s rules allow licensees to dispose of
these plant parts by open burning, incineration, burying, mulching, composting or any other
technique approved by the Department of Environmental Quality. However, all other medical
marijuana plant parts and products are considered “medical marijuana waste” and OMMA
licensees must utilize a licensed medical marijuana waste disposal service to process all such waste
they generate.

Notably, OMMA has yet to license a waste disposal facility or issue a waste disposal
facility permit. Until that first license is granted, the appropriate means to dispose of medical

3 For details concerning Waste Disposal Facilities, licenses and permits in OMMA’s current rules, see SUBCHAPTER 9.
WASTE DISPOSAL FACILITIES, 310: 681-9-1, et seq. marijuana waste continues to present, arguably, a gray area.

But this will change overnight, so stay alert and as always…Stay tuned!

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