Categories
BLOG

license to grow medical weed in oklahoma

Oklahoma Marijuana Growers License

Isaiah N. Brydie, Esq.

Get the Legal Knowledge Required to Protect Your Investment

Growing cannabis in Oklahoma for sale as medical marijuana requires a license under the rules of the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA). A skilled marijuana business attorney can provide the knowledge required to keep your valuable grow in compliance with OMMA rules.

Grower License Basics

Growers of medical marijuana in Oklahoma, termed under the rules for “commercial growers,” are classified as a “Medical Marijuana Business” requiring a “commercial license.” Commercial growers may only sell or transfer medical marijuana to licensed Oklahoma processors and dispensaries.

Grower licenses are valid for twelve months and must be renewed annually under OMMA rules. An Oklahoma medical marijuana growers license attorney can help you gain the assurance that your long-term investment in a growing operation will not be shut down by a shortfall in your annual growers license renewal.

Grower License Applicant Qualifications

Medical marijuana growers, including any business engaged in or investing in a growing operation must undergo criminal background checks in order to apply for a commercial grower license. Background check requirements include officers, investors, directors and stockholders of the related business. Investors are not permitted to remain undisclosed. All growers and business officers must be disclosed for criminal background checks and for residency confirmation.

The residency rules for a grower license requires that at least 75 percent of the ownership of a commercial grower operation be owned by Oklahoma residents. Additionally, no owner may be under 25 years of age.

More OMMA Rules for Licenses

If the grow operation is located withing a municipality, an ordinary business license for the municipality is required. The latest Oklahoma medical marijuana laws require a Certificate of Compliance that shows all relevant municipal inspection requirements to be submitted to the OMMA for each location that medical marijuana is grown or stored.

Growers must also register with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control (OBNDD) before handling any medical marijuana products.

Grower license applicants may also apply for a transporter license to move marijuana to points of sale or have another party move it on the grower’s behalf. Transport of medical marijuana requires both a transporter license and a valid transporter agent license for drivers.

Grower Operation and Reporting Requirements for Licenses

Growers are required to strictly manage, track and transport all medical marijuana and medical marijuana products with software and security measures sufficient to comply with the rules and regulations.

Oklahoma regulations provide specific security measures required for licensee requirements that include for example, fence height requirements (eight feet total with spikes or barbed wire features around outdoor areas or greenhouses), facility door security requirements, location restrictions and restrictions on public visibility of grow operations.

Growers must do monthly reporting to comply with licensing rules. Also, record keeping requirements include a duty to maintain certain records for three years or more.

All batches of harvested medical marijuana in Oklahoma must be inspected and tested to identify contaminants and determine chemical content with strict limits on a number of different metrics before being sold or transported. Medical marijuana that does not meet safety standards must be destroyed.

Grower Licensee Safety Requirements

All batches of harvested medical marijuana in Oklahoma must be inspected and tested to identify contaminants and determine chemical content with strict limits on a number of different metrics before being sold or transported. Medical marijuana that does not meet safety requirements through testing must be destroyed and properly disposed by growers.

Licensees are subject to inspections and audits by Oklahoma medical marijuana authorities. Licensing authorities may also require individuals to be questioned in relation to licensing matters with as little as 24 hours notice. This notice is specifically for the purpose of allowing the interviewee to attend the interview with representation from an Oklahoam marijuana growers attorney.

Growers Can Get A Free Consult

Grow applicants and licensees need help with the legal aspects of application and compliance with Oklahoma medical marijuana grower license rules under the OMMA. Call for a free initial consult with an OK Cannabis Law Office medical marijuana attorney today. Call (918) 932-2879.

Commercial grow licenses through the OMMA in Oklahoma; medical marijuana lawyer representing license applicants and licensees facing annual renewal mattters

After veto, some Oklahoma medical marijuana businesses in license limbo

At 61, Matthew Koontz came to Oklahoma from Michigan hoping to provide a boost for his retirement savings by making his play in Oklahoma’s medical marijuana industry as a grower, and eventually, a dispensary owner selling his own products. But what looked to be a dream come true has slowly dissolved into a regulatory nightmare and a licensure limbo.

“The idea was to spend the money we had saved and invest in this thing and then try to save enough over the next 10 years to have a good retirement at the ripe old age of 70,” Koontz said. “But right now, it doesn’t look good.”

On May 21, Gov. Kevin Stitt vetoed HB 3228, which could have provided Koontz and other marijuana business owners some relief. During 2020’s abbreviated legislative session, the bill had become a combination of several adjustments to policies within the state’s medical marijuana industry. It featured a provision to protect dispensaries that had been licensed prior to when a 2019 bill established a 1,000-foot boundary around preschools, and it would have authorized home delivery of medical marijuana products.

But the bill’s provision intended to address what has turned Koontz’s life into a roller coaster ride of bureaucracy and frustration focused on residency requirements for dispensary and grow operators licensed by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority.

The residency requirement issue has the potential to impact numerous medical marijuana businesses across the state in the coming weeks, and the prospect of losing their businesses has stirred angst among those affected.

AG opinion created uncertainty

Koontz received his grow license in April 2019, about 10 months after voters passed State Question 788 to legalize medical marijuana.

Unfortunately for him, HB 2612 took effect on Aug. 29, 2019. Called the “unity bill” to the chagrin of some, HB 2612 established medical marijuana guidelines in state statute and changed the definition of what was considered a “resident” for purposes of commercial medical marijuana licenses. It required applicants to have lived in Oklahoma two years prior to applying or to have resided in the state at least five of the previous 25 years.

Initially, only 75 percent of a medical marijuana operation’s ownership had been required to be considered Oklahoma residents. Those who applied only needed to submit a driver’s license, a residential lease agreement or a utility bill to qualify.

Having done that, Koontz figured he would be exempted along with other dispensary owners and grow operators who had moved to Oklahoma from other states prior to HB 2612’s new requirement.

It didn’t work out that way. Just as his operation was beginning to yield product for sale, Koontz attempted to renew his grow license in April 2020 — a $2,500 non-refundable fee — and was denied by the OMMA because of the new residency requirement.

In February 2020, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter issued a formal opinion that “the durational residency requirement should not be applied retroactively to revoke licenses” issued before HB 2612 took effect. But Koontz and others still needed their licenses to be renewed by the OMMA.

This year, House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols (R-OKC) attempted to change the residency requirement in HB 3228. After the bill was vetoed by Stitt, Echols said the House had the votes to override the governor but that the Senate did not.

Koontz said the situation has created two groups of licensees.

“One group with less than two years of residency that received their license before 8-29-2019 under the old rules that can renew their licenses, and another group with less than two years of residency that also received their license before 8-29-2019 under the old rules that cannot renew their license,” he said.

Koontz not alone

Oklahoma City attorney Blake Johnson represents some of those involved in Oklahoma’s growing medical marijuana industry. He said Oklahoma’s law attracted people from out of state looking to start their own business.

J. Blake Johnson is an attorney with Overman Legal Group and a partner in Climb Collective, a cannabis industry consulting firm. (Provided)

“A lot of people did that because 788’s licensing scheme is so permissive. That is to say the barriers to entry are extraordinarily low as compared to basically any other jurisdiction with legal weed,” he said. “Because of that, 788 caused a huge rush of people to move to start a cannabis business in Oklahoma.”

Johnson said in places like California, which has both a recreational and medical marijuana program, the cost of starting a business and the limited number of licenses available are often prohibitive for most would-be entrepreneurs. Johnson said it can cost up to $2 million to enter the cannabis industry in California.

“A lot of people who have spent their careers working for richer people in the cannabis industry saw 788 as an opportunity to own a piece themselves,” he said.

‘I’m literally about to lose everything’

Koontz said he has spent about $400,000 on his quest to enter Oklahoma’s cannabis industry. He holds licenses to operate a dispensary and to grow marijuana.

“We had planned to go vertical because we found out that if you sell your own product, you will make a lot more money,” he said. “So in this roller coaster, we’ve gone from thinking we’re going out of business, to the next day going out to look for a place to open a dispensary, and back again. It’s been very stressful.”

Koontz said he wonders if the decision not to exempt people like him from the new residency law is an attempt at culling the herd and reducing competition. But mostly, he just wants to do business.

“I’m literally about to lose everything right now,” he said. “We had a nice place in Michigan, and we sold out of that and spent a ton of money on infrastructure down here, and now after all that we still don’t know what’s going to happen to our business.”

Legal challenges ahead

If the situation is not resolved, there is expected to be a number of legal challenges to the law from owners like Koontz who suddenly find themselves in fight for their survival.

Johnson said residency requirements traditionally have not been upheld by the Supreme Court.

“So I got a license and opened, but suddenly a year later I’m not qualified for a license because I moved to California on my sixth birthday? That’s sort of nonsensical to begin with,” Johnson said. “The Supreme Court has always struck down residency restrictions.”

Pointing to HB 3228 being sent to Stitt, Johnson said “the Legislature seemingly recognized a lot of people were about to be unlicensed because they included this.”

Johnson said in a time when the state is challenged economically because of the price of oil and the continued novel coronavirus pandemic, entrepreneurs should be welcomed.

“I think it’s really misguided policy that the general philosophy seems to be that we don’t want non-Oklahomans participating in the industry,” Johnson said. “There’s something really stupid about that.”

Location proximity also in flux

Another section of HB 3228 would have provided an exemption for cannabis dispensaries currently in limbo thanks to the Legislature’s 2019 definition of the word “school,” which effectively added preschools into the boundary equation.

This session’s bill would have allowed dispensaries to remain in operation if they fall within 1,000 feet of a school after initially being licensed.

Rep. Scott Fetgatter (R-Okmulgee) said more than 200 dispensaries and grow operations across the state could be forced to shutter their businesses if that is not resolved.

“We have people who have invested their livelihoods, and it doesn’t matter if you agree with marijuana or not, they have exercised their rights to be self employed,” he said.

Fetgatter said he hopes there will be a special legislative session to pass HB 3228’s licensure tweaks into law.

“The other option is they get put out of business,” Fetgatter said.

Stitt’s veto message on HB 3228 said the bill’s changes “were not fully scrutinized,” but many industry experts believe his objection to the bill centered around its allowance for home delivery of medical marijuana products.

Johnson represents Fire Leaf, a chain of medical marijuana dispensaries with eight locations around the state. Its Edmond location, a building the company purchased and renovated into a cannabis dispensary, is now at risk for closure because of its proximity to a preschool. The preschool limitation was not in law when the Edmond location was selected.

Johnson said the functional definition of “preschool” is nebulous in and of itself. He said the ultimate failure of HB 3228 to address Oklahoma medical marijuana licensure issues could have an effect on patients.

“I think depending on where you shop for your medicine, there is a realistic chance that the dispensary you rely on could lose its license,” he said.

OMMA spokeswoman Terri Watkins said the agency is aware of the discrepancies in the law and is working to find a solution. The OMMA is scheduled to meet at 1 p.m., Monday, July 13, at the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

Follow @NonDocMedia on:

Two issues unaddressed after the veto of HB 3228 could have lasting impacts on the Oklahoma medical marijuana industry if questions are not resolved. ]]>