On Tuesday, June 26 2018, Oklahoma residents voted to approve a bill (SQ 788) that will allow for the physician-recommended use of medical marijuana.
This is great news of course for the thousands of individuals in the state suffering from a marijuana-treatable condition (such as pain, anxiety, PTSD, etc), but don’t get too excited just yet if you’re one of these potential patients, because it looks like there are still a lot of kinks to work out before the program becomes operational.
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Wondering How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Oklahoma?
If you have already heard about the news and are wondering how to get a medical marijuana card in Oklahoma, be advised that the system is not going to be up and running for quite some time.
The state has said that applications will become available online on July 26 (you can visit omma.ok.gov to access one), but even completed packets will not be “received or processed” until August 25 at the earliest.
Moreover, because of federal restrictions on the sale and transfer of cannabis between states, it will take much longer for actual marijuana products to become available in state-run dispensaries.
By conservative estimates, for example, it will be at least 9-12 months (according to one Oklahoma news outlet) before medical marijuana products are available for sale in the state – even for patients that have already received their medical cards.
Why is it going to take so long, you might be wondering?
Well, establishing and building a medical marijuana program that abides by all federal rules and regulations is not easy – nor is it quick. Oklahoma will become the 30th state to implement a medical marijuana program, and nearly all 29 states before it have gone through similar, lengthy processes in terms of making the transition from an approved bill to an actual up-and-running program.
“You have to get the seeds [first],” says Chance Gilbert, founder of the Oklahoma Cannabis & Hemp Trade Association. “[Then] they have to be certified. You have to have paperwork for them so you can track the lineage. All of this is extremely arduous and scientific.”
Indeed, going from a seed to a mature, harvestable plant can take anywhere from three to three-and-a-half months, and this is not including the myriad of legal paperwork that has to be completed beforehand.
Since Oklahoma borders Colorado – one of the most “accessible” states in terms of medical marijuana – many might assume that they will simply be able to travel across state lines and purchase marijuana there, then bring it back to Oklahoma with their “legal” medical marijuana card. Unfortunately, that’s not the way it’s going to work.
According to News OK, all medical marijuana products sold in Oklahoma will need to be planted, cultivated, harvested, and then distributed to state licensed dispensaries for resale to MMJ patients.
Moreover, it looks like the newly-approved bill might be hitting a bit of a roadblock in the form of Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin, who has already issued a press release stating her dissatisfaction with the current terms of the legislation.
Will Medical Marijuana in Oklahoma Get Shut Down Before the Program is Even Implemented?
While it’s unlikely that Governor Fallin will veto the medical marijuana bill entirely, it does appear likely that she will call a special session in order to amend some of the bill’s “legal language,” which, believe it or not, is surprisingly liberal (according to Forbes Magazine, doctors would be able to recommend medical marijuana for virtually “any medical condition they see fit”).
Immediately after the bill passed, for example, Governor Fallin issued the following Press Release:
“…As I mentioned in previous public comments, I believe, as well as many Oklahomans, this new law is written so loosely that it opens the door for basically recreational marijuana. I will be discussing with legislative leaders and state agencies our options going forward on how best to proceed with adding a medical and proper regulatory framework to make sure marijuana use is truly for valid medical illnesses.”
So again, while it is great news that voters finally passed legislation for the use of medical marijuana in Oklahoma, by the looks of things it will be quite some time before residents of the state are able to enjoy the benefits of the new law.
Medical Marijuana in Oklahoma: What Will be Allowed?
Like we just mentioned, the marijuana bill in its current form is “generous,” to say the very least. If the program is implemented without any changes (which is unlikely), residents who receive a state medical marijuana card will be able to:
- Possess up to 3 oz of cannabis in public
- Store up to 8 oz of cannabis at home
- Grow up to six mature plants in their private residence (in addition to six seedlings)
- Possess up to 1 oz of cannabis concentrates (including THC oils, waxes, extracts, etc)
- Possess up to 72 oz of “marijuana-infused edibles”
- Designate an MMJ caregiver to purchase and/or grow medicinal marijuana for them
Also, in terms of the application itself, the process appears that it will be relatively easy to obtain a state ID card (which, by the way, will be valid for 2-years instead of the regular 1-year in most other states).
In fact, the approved bill highlights no qualifying medical conditions at all – a fact that has outraged many residents and lawmakers in the state.
Dr. Kevin Taubman, for instance, former president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, has said: “This is a bad public health policy that does not resemble a legitimate medical treatment program.”
Connie Givens, an Oklahoma resident that opposed the bill on grounds that it was written to backhandedly permit the use of recreational marijuana, shares the same sentiment: “I think it’s not written right. I think it’s just so people can get marijuana.”
The fact that the legislation includes no qualifying medical conditions has led many to believe that doctors will be able to “authorize weed” for any number of ailments, whether legitimate or not. This is why it is unlikely that the bill will be implemented without amendments of the terms and statutes.
Medical Marijuana in Oklahoma: What Else Do You Need to Know?
As we’ve already mentioned, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) has said that online applications for the issuance of medical marijuana ID cards will become available on July 26 2018, by visiting omma.ok.gov.
In the meantime, though, is there anything you can be doing to ensure you will be one of the first state residents to get a medical marijuana license in Oklahoma?
Here are a few additional things worth considering in regard to the state’s new program:
What will I need from my doctor to get a medical marijuana license?
In order to be approved for a medical marijuana license in Oklahoma, you will need to be a state resident over the age of 18. You will also need to obtain a physician’s signature on an official OSDH form (which will become available July 26) stating that you need medical marijuana. If you are a minor (under the age of 18), you will need to obtain two physician signatures.
How much will it cost to apply for a medical marijuana license in Oklahoma?
The OSDH application fee will be $100, and it will need to be renewed every two years. For applicants that qualify with Medicaid, SoonerCare, or Medicare benefits, the application fee will be $20.
What department will oversee the medical marijuana program?
The OSDH will be creating a new “regulatory office” that will oversee the entirety of the medical marijuana licensing program, including receiving all applications related to “patients, caregivers, growers, processors, transporters and dispensaries.”
How long will it take to get a medical marijuana card in Oklahoma?
Once applications start to be reviewed (beginning August 25), the OSDH claims they will respond to all completed packets within 14 days of receiving them.
Will I be able to be issued a caregiver?
Yes – under qualifying circumstances (as stated on the application), licenses will be granted that provide a designated caregiver to licensed patients (though you will need to provide valid/documented information on why you need a caregiver).
How do I get a license to open a medical marijuana dispensary in Oklahoma? Or to become a grower, processor, or transporter in Oklahoma?
As with the standard medical marijuana applications, all application materials for potential growers, transporters, processors, and dispensary operators will become available July 26 at omma.ok.gov. Applicants for these positions must be:
- At least 25 years old
- A resident of Oklahoma
- Already registered to conduct business in the state
- Have no more than 25% non-Oklahoma ownership (i.e. no more than 25% of your dispensary partners can be non-Oklahoma residents)
Application fees for growers, processors, and dispensary operators will be $2,500.
Lastly, be advised that the Oklahoma State Department of Health will be updating the status of the medical marijuana program as new information becomes available. You can either check omma.ok.gov, or call 405.271.2266 for the most up to date information.
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