Oklahoma agriculture concerns on medical marijuana studied

OKLAHOMA CITY — Reps. Dick Lowe, R-Amber, Dell Kerbs, R-Shawnee and Carl Newton, R-Cherokee, held an interim study Monday and Tuesday at the state Capitol examining agriculture concerns arising from the growth of medical marijuana production throughout the state, according to a press release.

Specific topics of concern included pesticide drift liability, compliance and solutions, and rural utilities.

“Farmers in my district and across the state have been asking for guidance as more marijuana grows have moved in next to them,” Lowe said in a press release. “This study was held to find a way for two industries to co-exist together in our state, and work through some of the issues that farmers have brought up to us. We want to make sure that farmers who have been here for generations can continue to prosper and that any rules put in place are equitable for all.”

The study was combined with one by Newton that focused on finding common ground between farmers spraying their crops with herbicide and pesticides and marijuana growers who claim drift is affecting their product. The goal is to curb lawsuits filed by the latter.

“Farmers are the absolute backbone of our society as they work to help keep us all fed,” Newton said. “Oklahoma farmers need some clarity and some promise of protection from liability as they spray their crops in the way they have for decades. At the same time, we realize we have a new industry on our hands, and we want to make sure both can share the land in a way that protects all.”

During the study, Adria Berry, the newest director of the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, gave an overview of the agency and a preview of future work.

Mark Woodward, public information officer for the Oklahoma Bureau of Dangerous Drugs Control, discussed criminal investigations throughout the state, presenting a PowerPoint titled “Medical Marijuana the Dark Side of the Industry.”

Kenny Naylor, director of Consumer Protection Services at the Oklahoma Dept. of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, detailed the pesticide complaint process.

Representatives with the Oklahoma Rural Water Association spoke about the impact of cannabis grow operations on rural water systems in the state.

Among the more than two dozen speakers in the study was former Speaker of the House Jeff Hickman, now with the Grain and Feed Association, who discussed community cooperation.

Also represented during the study was the Oklahoma Agriculture Aviation Association, the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, the Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma, the Pesticide Safety Education Program at Oklahoma State University, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the Oklahoma State Department of Health, the Oklahoma Water Resources Board and rural water districts, electric providers, and growers, processors and agriculture producers.

Other interim studies on different aspects of the medical marijuana industry are scheduled for later this fall.