Oklahoma's Booming Cannabis Industry
Published on 6/23/20
Updated: Apr 21, 2022
If you had to take wagers on which state has seen some of the most significant growth of their legal cannabis industry in the last few years, which of the fifty members of the union would you think was leading the pack? What if we told you that it was a Southern state, one that has yet to even legalize recreationally and that only established a medical program of its own in 2018. Ready to guess the state? Well, to many's surprise, the answer is Oklahoma!
Yes. You read that right. In a landscape of legalization and increasing acceptance of cannabis use across the country, the Sooner State is - in its own unique way - experiencing a growth spurt unlike any other state in the nation has experienced. This commonwealth located in the middle of the country surprisingly has more dispensaries (over 2,200)than Colorado, California, or any other state in the nation. Since Oklahoma voters legalized medical marijuana in June of 2018, marijuana in Oklahoma has taken off with the incredibly relaxed Oklahoma weed laws implemented at record speed. As unlikely as it might sound, the state of Oklahoma is home to a Green Rush of its very own!
That's why we here at Where's Weed wanted to take a deep dive into all things legal weed in the state of Oklahoma, going in-depth and giving you all the details about this new and booming multi-million dollar cash cow in the Sooner State! We're going to break down exactly how much legal weed Oklahoma residents are buying, what the industry looks like in the state both presently and going forwards, and break go in-depth on exactly why the industry is exploding the way it is in the state of Oklahoma.
Is Marijuana Legal in Oklahoma?
Like most things, that answer is much more complicated than just a simple black and white yes or no answer. Oddly, despite the surge in Oklahoma dispensary openings and Oklahoma cannabis use, the state has not yet joined the ranks of the recreational weed states. While there is a major push for legalization and the addition of 2022 ballot measures that would legalize recreational use, nothing official has been approved as of yet. At the time of writing, only medical marijuana use is fully legal. Thanks to the passage of this new law via ballot measure, officially called SQ 788, medical cannabis was fully legalized within state borders.
That lack of recreational availability hasn't hindered the massive growth of the legal industry in the state of Oklahoma at all, however. That's due to a few important factors that we'll break down in more detail below.
Why is Weed So Popular in the Sooner State?
The thing that makes Oklahoma marijuana use so prevalent, however, is how basic Oklahoma medical marijuana laws are and how simple it is to acquire a state-issued cannabis patient card. So simple, in fact, that one out of every 13 Oklahoma residents has obtained a state-issued card. As of May 1, 2020, that equated to over 282,000 patient licenses,according to the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority. That massive amount of growth has yet to slow down either. According to data collected in 2021, the Sooner state has more than 368,218 registered patients. To put that in perspective, that's more than 9 percent of the whole state's population with medical cards of their own. Simply put, that blows every other state's medical program out of the water
The retail side of the market is also incredibly accommodating to anyone who wants to open a dispensary. The cost of an operating license in Oklahoma is only $2,500. Compare that to California where the cost to obtain a license to sell cannabis can be as high as $240,000 and it's clear to see why the legal cannabis business is booming in the state of Oklahoma. There is also no current limit to the number of licenses that can be provided by the state to prospective store owners and the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority continues to be inundated with requests, meaning that the possibility for those looking for state-legal cannabis businesses is pretty much limitless.
What makes Oklahoma marijuana laws so unique is that they do not require any qualifying conditions in order to get a card. Most states with a legal medical marijuana system require some type of medical conditions, but in Oklahoma it is completely up to the Oklahoma board-certified doctor who is only required to follow "accepted standards a reasonable and prudent physician would follow when recommending any medication to a patient." The directive for physicians is to handle it in the same manner as any other medication that could possibly benefit a patient and should therefore be prescribed. The recommendation form also contains a section where patients and their physicians are able to list medical conditions that might benefit from marijuana use, but that section of the form is not required to be completed.
How Do I Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Oklahoma?
Until recently, Oklahoma dispensary laws allowed for a physician to be on-site to approve medical marijuana applications. The process only took a couple of minutes, a card was issued and suddenly everything in the dispensary (and every other dispensary in Oklahoma) was legally available to the new patient. Although doctors can no longer legally see patients inside dispensaries, many still offer adjacent options with doctors on call to assist prospective patients with applications. Doctors at kiosks and on buses outside of dispensaries are not uncommon. Virtual consultations are also an option, along with a massive amount of certified cannabis doctors' offices popping up all around the state! Simply put, getting a card in the state of Oklahoma is pretty much as simple as it gets for any state in the U.S.!
How Much Does an MMJ Card Cost?
The cost of a cannabis patient card is $100 and the fee for the prescribing physician is usually only about $20. Once a patient gets a cannabis license it is valid for two years (unless the patient is recommended or chooses the shorter 60-day license) and there is no onus on either the patient or the doctor to meet after the marijuana has been prescribed to see if the patient is benefiting from the medicine. Visiting patients who can prove they are registered in another medical marijuana state with a regulated program may apply for and be issued a temporary, 30-day, medical marijuana license for a $100 fee.
Blurred Lines: Medicinal and Recreational Marijuana
With so many people receiving medical marijuana licenses and new dispensaries opening almost daily, Oklahoma's medical weed has more or less become Oklahoma's recreational weed. The ease of getting a patient card has lured thousands of recreational users who would normally rely on illegal means to find their weed to simply pick up a card and partake in the legal medical options in dispensaries across the state. Along with the push to decriminalize state-wide as Oklahoma City did in 2018, it's clear that the people of the state of Oklahoma are very much in favor of legal cannabis.
This blurring of the lines between Oklahoma medical marijuana laws in relation to recreational marijuana states is what presumably led Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt to recently veto legislation that would have permitted dispensaries to deliver medical weed to patients who live within 10 miles of the dispensary. It would also have removed jail time for first-time offenders in possession of cannabis without a medical marijuana license. Stitt has previously voiced his dismay about how the medical marijuana in Oklahoma "looks a lot like recreational."
At the end of the day, however, no state-level officials are going to come out strongly against a booming, yet-up-and-coming industry that's generated the state nearly $178 million in profits in just 2021 and 2022 alone. And that legal cash cow is showing no signs of slowing down either! In February 2021, sales for medical cannabis exceeded an astounding $831 million. Plain and simply put, that's a whole bunch of legal weed. While the answer to a question like "Is recreational weed legal in Oklahoma" is still a resounding no in most parts of the state, we suspect it won't be that way for too long!
Whether legislators like it or not, legal cannabis is clearly popular and very much here to stay in the Sooner State!
Have you taken advantage of Oklahoma weed laws and obtained a medical marijuana card? How easy was it to obtain? Has the cannabis helped with your medical condition? Let us know about how the process went in the comment section below and take a moment to check out Where's Weed's Oklahoma City guide.