MOORE — Medical marijuana growers and sellers have been given the green light to operate in Moore, despite lingering uncertainty around state rules for the budding Oklahoma industry.
City council approved an ordinance Monday adding the necessary language to city code for growing and selling permits. Ordinance No. 892(18) allows the opening of medical marijuana dispensaries, growing facilities, processing facilities, wholesale and storage facilities and growing for personal use within city limits.
City Manager Brooks Mitchell said the ordinance language was drafted to match that in State Question 788, which earlier this summer legalized the medical use of the drug in Oklahoma. He said related businesses are already looking to set up shop in Moore.
City Clerk Linda Stewart said one application had been submitted and is currently being considered. Details were not available as the application is still pending, but Stewart said it is for a growing facility.
Mary Jane Dispensary is set to open in the brand new 19th Street Plaza at 2990 SE 19th St. Darrell Carnes is the CEO and said he hopes to have the store open first as a CBD shop in the next three weeks.
"Like a lot of the other transition stores, we will start out as a CBD store. We are hoping, with fingers crossed, that we're able to open on opening day for smokable, which is Oct. 26."
But, of course, the store won't offer smokable marijuana, or any kind of THC product, until later. Carnes said he hasn't applied for a dispensary permit from the city yet, though he plans to soon. On top of that, there's the lack of marijuana growers within the state, meaning the available product from the beginning is expected to be expensive.
"You may have to wait for growers to enter the market to drive that price down," he said.
The restrictions in the Moore ordinance mostly have to do with public visibility. For instance, dispensaries are not allowed within 1,000 feet of any public or private school entrance, which matches language in SQ788.
Dispensaries are allowed to be open between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Growing, processing and storage facilities must be constructed in a way that marijuana product and/or plants cannot be seen by the public from the public right of way, according to the ordinance.
They also must have vent and filtration systems that prevent any odors from the plant from being detectible off of the premises.
But Renee Harper, owner of Green Hope Wellness who hopes to have a dispensary in the future, said a lot of the rules and regulations could change still. After the State Board of Health established a controversial set of rules for medical marijuana last summer, then rescinded them and came up with a new set, Harper said there's still too much up in the air for a business owner to feel comfortable.
"It's very unclear," she said. "For the longest time, when I was getting my paperwork together for a dispensary, I was so confused."
Harper is a nurse by trade. Green Hope Wellness offers CBD products, and she offers consultations with customers that include dosage and use of THC products.
She also has a doctor come to the store to consult with patients on occasion, she said.
Though Green Hope Wellness won't become a dispensary just yet, Harper said she will continue consulting patients. In the meantime, she will bide her time to see what exactly state lawmakers land on regarding medical marijuana.
"They could come back and change it any moment," she said. "Then you've spent all that money fixing something up."
Carnes, too, admitted there's some risk that comes with moving to THC products in his business. But the reward possibilities offered in Oklahoma mean it's worth taking, and that's why he decided to open Mary Jane.
"Really it is geared to where if you want to take a step and take a risk, it's geared to where a small mom and pop could have a lot of success," he said.
In August, when a Cleveland County judge denied a request for an injunction against the then new medical marijuana rules, Carnes said he spoke with one of the attorneys for that group, Rachel Bussett. After that discussion, he said he anticipates the state may try to come back with added rules, which would complicate his business if he was not prepared.
"A major concern of ours was the rules went from 75 pages down to 24. But in the new set, it says all of these sections that were taken out are reserved, not removed," Carnes said. "I asked [Bussett] does that typically mean that once a legislative group gets ahold of it, a lot will change? And she said absolutely. They just didn't have authority at this time.
"When I was creating Mary Jane, we kept all of that in mind. They took out a lot of that stuff that is mainly for the safety of the business owner. We kept the original rules in mind and tried to plan it within those boundaries."