OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) is preparing to halt the issuing of new cannabis business licenses for a two-year period starting next month.
Last spring, state lawmakers and Gov. Kevin Stitt passed a two-year moratorium on new cannabis business licenses being issued by the OMMA that begins Aug. 2, 2022, at midnight. The goal is to give the OMMA and law enforcement agencies across the state time to see who is operating a legitimate business, and who is operating under the radar disguised as a legitimate cannabis business hoping no one asks any questions as long as it looks legitimate.
“We will be accepting license applications up until 11:59 p.m. the night of August 1,” OMMA Spokeswoman Porsha Riley said. “After that, you will need to wait two years before you can apply for a new business license. This does not impact patient licenses.”
Riley said during the two-year freeze, the OMMA will not accept applications and hold places in line for people ready to apply who are willing to wait up to two years for a new business license. She said anyone who wants to apply after the moratorium is in place will have to wait until August 2024. She also said under the new law, the OMMA director has the ability to cancel the moratorium early if he or she feels the objective of the freeze has been accomplished.
The OMMA is expecting a last minute rush of new business applications that so far, Riley said, has not materialized. She said, instead, the average number of new business license applications are down at the moment when compared to previous months and years.
The freeze also does not impact currently established businesses whose licenses will need to be renewed at any point in the next two years, she said.
Stitt said in his State of the State Address last February that he wanted to see a statewide crackdown on illegal grows he and law enforcement have told FOX23 is connected to drug cartels, but as FOX23 has reported in the past, there is a problem with the approach some at the capitol are taking to go after the “bad actors” by freezing the industry as a whole.
Many if not all of the businesses that have licenses through the OMMA are more than willing to open their doors for inspections and are in compliance with state law because they know the state has their information anyways and will likely check in on them at some point. Some of them have also pumped their life savings into getting in early on the still budding cannabis industry in Oklahoma, and they aren’t looking to throw away their investments.
It’s the “bad actors” who don’t bother to use the OMMA licensing system and are not listed on any state register and therefore are not being inspected. The legitimate businesses and those who want to set up legitimate operations with a state licenses are the ones following the rules and are finding themselves lumped in to the crackdown.
Riley said the OMMA, by order of another state law, will have completed compliance checks on all licensed businesses by the end of the year, and it will continue to do compliance checks whether a moratorium was in place or not.
“In general, our role is consumer and product safety, weeding out those bad actors, and just overall making sure everything is in compliance with regulations and state law,” she said.
It is not clear what roles law enforcement will take at this time, and it will depend on the agencies at the state, county, and local levels to determine how they will crackdown on illegal businesses in the next two years while the freeze is in place.
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