Oklahoma has decided to take a step toward cracking down on illicit marijuana operations with House Bill 2095. The bill was authored by Rep. Jon Echols and Sen. Lonnie Paxton and gives the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office, Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control, and Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation full enforcement authority over medical marijuana laws. It also extends the moratorium on new grow licenses through 2026, so law enforcement has additional time to shut down existing illegal grows.
With the signing of House Bill 2095, it is important to point out how the Oklahoma state government has profited from the illegal activity for years. When medical marijuana became legal in 2018, hundreds of businesses applied for licenses – far more than the limited number authorized to sell cannabis products only to Oklahoma residents.
This discrepancy has resulted in millions of dollars of licensing fees from illegal operators and no real effort from state agencies to combat this issue until now.
The enforcement actions taken by state agencies to combat illicit cannabis grows in Oklahoma are extensive. The Attorney General’s Office, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control, and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation have full authority to conduct investigations, seize products, inspect operations, and levy fines against illegal operators. In addition, a moratorium on new grow licenses has been put into place through 2026 so law enforcement can take the time necessary to shut down existing illegal grows.
House Bill 2095 also enacts some additional measures to combat illicit cannabis grows. It allows police officers to seize and destroy cannabis that has not been recorded in inventory systems and products not required to be in the inventory system.
The bill also prohibits licensed MMJ growers from knowingly hiring undocumented immigrants, with violations resulting in a misdemeanor and loss of license. Additionally, it limits to one the number of MMJ commercial grower licenses that can be issued for any one property. Finally, the bill allows law enforcement agencies to perform surprise inspections of medical marijuana operations throughout Oklahoma.
These measures create an environment where only legitimate operators can participate in the legal cannabis industry. By creating a more tightly regulated market, state officials hope to reduce the number of illicit operations and ensure that those who are in compliance with the law have access to safe and quality products.
Oklahoma state officials are confident that House Bill 2095 will help the state make progress in its efforts to combat illegal marijuana grows. Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt expressed his support for the bill saying, “If there is a medicine that is going to help someone, then Oklahomans have a big heart and we want that to help somebody, but this has gotten out of control,” the Republican governor said. “We have to make sure we have law and order to get illegal people and organized crime out of the State of Oklahoma.”
The law has been met with mixed reviews but is generally seen as providing beneficial oversight to ensure legal operations comply with regulations. It is projected that this bill will significantly impact the state’s legal cannabis industry moving forward.
Overall, House Bill 2095 has been met with support from state officials, who believe it will help create an environment of legitimacy for medical marijuana operations in Oklahoma. The measure gives law enforcement agencies the additional authority to inspect and take action against illegal operations while allowing licensed operators access to safe and quality products.
It is expected that this bill will have a positive effect on the industry as a whole, ensuring responsible regulation and keeping patients safe.
Regardless, the measure is controversial and has received mixed reviews from industry players and advocates. If correctly, however, it could provide a much needed step towards further legitimizing the medical marijuana industry in Oklahoma. With its passage, state officials are hopeful that this will bring about meaningful change for cannabis in Oklahoma.