It's been over three months since Oklahomans approved State Question 788, which legalized medicinal marijuana. The state health department opened the application process near the end of July, and has received thousands of patient and caregiver applications, as well as more than a thousand dispensary applications.
It will be months before growers have marijuana available to be processed, and more time for it to be processed, packaged, and available for purchase. Here's where the state is on the subject:
• Cities are now working to add their own regulations and fees since most money generated by medical marijuana sales and licenses will go to the state. Some cities are adding regulations that are stiffer than the state's, and some could easily be interpreted as cities attempting to de facto ban medical marijuana within their city limits, often using zoning regulations.
The City of Norman doesn't appear to be doing anything like that, discussing common sense solutions to where dispensaries, growers and processors can set up shop, and what local licenses or fees will be required to direct some of the new revenue into the city's coffers.
• Since possessing marijuana, regardless of whether you have a state-issued medical license, is still a violation of federal laws, Oklahomans with medical marijuana licenses and firearm licenses could have their guns seized by the federal government. The state legislature will consider at least one bill in the spring 2019 session that would direct state law enforcement officers to ignore a federal memo directing them to seize the firearms of individuals in possession of a medical marijuana card.
• Because medical marijuana is illegal on the federal level, the Oklahoma marijuana industry can't use the traditional banking system. There's been the discussion of opening a medical marijuana bank in Oklahoma City that would provide some of the security features the traditional banking system does.
• The state has hired a director for the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, the branch of the health department that will be overseeing Oklahoma's medical marijuana industry: Adrienne Rollins, an internal candidate who has been with the health department since 2012.
It's a little surprising that the health department went with an internal candidate, considering the significant turmoil at the agency over the past year that included claiming to be $30 million in the red, slashing programs and firing personnel, and then discovering $30 million untouched in an account, and an attorney sending fake threats to her own account that led to her resignation. But that's not to say Rollins, who has been working on the medical marijuana roll out since April, isn't a qualified candidate.