In the last week of February, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs seized half a billion dollars-worth of illegally grown marijuana, shutting down a dozen illegal grow operations across the state and jailing 13 people. The bust, which involved hundreds of law enforcement officers, was one of the biggest in Oklahoma. OBNDD said they focused the raid on operators that were illegally sending their products out of state for sale. This is not the end. The investigation is ongoing, and more warrants are expected.
Related article: House Republicans advance comprehensive medical marijuana policy package
This bust sends a strong message to illegal operators that they have no place in our state. They will be found. They will be shut down, and they will be prosecuted. This will cost them their product, their money and their freedom.
The state question that legalized medical marijuana in Oklahoma in 2018 included almost no regulation of the newly created industry. This has posed an enormous challenge for Oklahomans and those tasked with oversight. We’ve struggled with everything from the explosive growth of the black market and the strain that places on law enforcement to the overuse of utilities, water and more.
The recent drug bust shows that we’re serious about curbing illegal activity in our state surrounding medical marijuana, but there’s still much work for the Legislature to do to set better parameters around this industry. We’ve worked with everyone involved from people who use medical marijuana for a variety of ailments to those who grow, sell and test the product, as well as those charged with public safety, tax collection and every other facet.
We’ve passed legislation the past several years to help. This year, we’re intent on putting an end to illegal marijuana grows and kick black market operators out of Oklahoma for good. We’ll accomplish this through an aggressive 12-step approach that:
- Makes the Oklahoma Medial Marijuana Authority a standalone agency;
- Creates a grant program for county sheriff’s departments to fund law enforcement efforts in every county;
- Fully implements the seed-to-sale system
- Implements provisional licensing requiring pre-license inspections and increased document submission prior to approval
- Tiers grow license fees based on grow size
- Adds separate licensing for medical marijuana wholesalers
- Requires all medical marijuana businesses to post standardized permit signage at the place of business
- Establishes stringent electrical and water data reporting by marijuana growers
- Requires annual inspections
- Standardizes product packaging and maximum beyond-use dates
- Standardizes laboratory testing and equipment
- Requires marijuana grows to register as environmentally sensitive crop owners with the Agriculture Department to help with the problem of pesticide drift
Bills that accomplish these changes will be heard on the House floor in the coming weeks. I’ll update soon on their progress.
If I can do anything to help or to get you information, please feel free to reach out to my office at (405) 557-7332 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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