Amid a flurry of tweaks to the medicinal marijuana system in the state, Oklahoma legislators have advanced bills that would alter the state’s cannabis regulations, including one that could bring cannabis delivery to medical cannabis patients.
This week, Rep. Jon Echols’ House Bill 3227 was passed unanimously by a House of Representatives committee. The bill, dubbed the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana and Patient Protection Act, would allow dispensaries to work with licensed transporters to get cannabis to the people who need it most.
Such measures are considered an essential part of guaranteeing patients access to the drug, particularly those with limited mobility.
Oklahoma is far from alone in prioritizing such access, especially as more and more jurisdictions learn from their regulations’ weaknesses. Massachusetts, Michigan, and the city of Berkeley, California have all given the go-ahead to cannabis delivery over the past year.
As it becomes legal in more places, the technology of cannabis delivery systems has become the subject of much investigation.
The bill stipulates that only private homes would be allowed to receive cannabis deliveries, and that no residence would be able to receive more than one delivery in a day. Patients and their legal caregivers would be eligible to order cannabis to their home.
Another initiative that was passed out of committee includes a plan to make the government’s cannabis regulatory agency independent from the Oklahoma Department of Health, a bureaucratic system that has proven to be unwieldy.
The Success of Oklahoma’s Medical Marijuana Program
The first Oklahoma laws establishing the state’s medical marijuana system took effect on August 30, after voters opted for legalizing medical in 2018 and legislators passed House Bill 2612 regulating the industry earlier last year. That bill established the medical system’s framework, and protects access to employment, housing, and education for cannabis patients.
Medical cannabis has proven quite popular in the state, exceeding expert predictions for the industry. 3.5 percent of the population, or 146,381 individuals, had signed up for the medical cannabis program as of July of last year.
A recent study shows that Oklahoma has doled out the most medical dispensary licenses in the country, and another pegs the state’s density at the second highest in the United States by population. Oklahoma is home to nine of the top 30 cities when it comes to medical dispensaries per capita.
All that activity has led to a windfall for the state government. In 2019, cannabis tax revenue totaled $54.7 million.
But the legal framework for marijuana in the state is far from set in stone.
Policymakers have spent a decent-sized chunk of 2020 tinkering with the medical cannabis guidelines. Legislative proposals have included limits on outdoor advertising and how close dispensaries can be located near religious buildings.
Some of these proposals have caused cannabis business owners to protest, with hundreds demonstrating at the state capital building earlier this month against the proposed restrictions.
At the beginning of April, more previously enacted regulations will take effect. All products for sale will need to have been tested by a lab facility licensed by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, the government’s cannabis regulatory agency.