Several dispensaries have been planted throughout the city after medical marijuana became legal in the state.
At Oklahoma's June 26 primary election last year, voters made it abundantly clear they, too, are in support of an option in medical treatment that 29 other states have embraced: marijuana.
Passing with 57 percent, State Question 788 legalized the licensed use, sale and growth of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Since then, the question the state has had to answer is how to implement the new law; this is brand new terrain for Oklahomans.
Both at the state and local levels, rules have been established, rejected and rewritten.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) worked for months to develop emergency rules. The law had to be implemented quickly — within 60 days of passage.
The public was allowed a short time to submit comments to the draft; the vast majority of recorded public comments centered around a grave dissatisfaction for OSDH's proposal to allow only a limited amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content — 12 percent for medical marijuana products and 20 percent for a mature plant. Countless residents cited the limit as “unacceptable.”
The policies — after the board added two amendments (requiring dispensaries to be operated by pharmacists and banning the sale of smokable marijuana, despite a warning from legal counsel that it could open the door for legal challenges) — were adopted by the State Board of Health and then quickly approved by then-Gov. Mary Fallin.
Civil lawsuits were filed soon after in two Oklahoma counties accusing state health officials of improperly imposing strict rules on the state's recently approved medical marijuana industry.
Attorney General Mike Hunter issued a statement advising the board to reconsider its actions. Hunter added a laundry list of other concerns in the proposed regulations, as well.
Soon another updated draft was offered — with six pages of revisions to the rules.
Locally, Shawnee City Commissioners took a step back from a September decision to impose regulatory fees and fines for marijuana growing facilities for personal medical use; in March they removed the fee and fines from the City Fee Schedule. Before that, the board repealed rules previously enacted in the Fall regarding the passage of medical marijuana in the state.
Repealed items included the removal of the registry requirement of owners of marijuana-growing facilities for personal use — as well as removal of the fee to register; owners of marijuana-growing facilities for personal use will no longer be subject to security provisions; and growing marijuana for personal use without first obtaining a license from the state is no longer be punishable by a $200 daily fine while in violation.
In March Mayor Richard Finley also moved to adopt the ordinance striking Section 8-515, 8-B, which was a locally-added rule (above and beyond what state rules required) stating a permit would not be granted to any applicants where the proposed location would be located within 1,000 feet of any juvenile or adult halfway house, correctional facility or substance abuse rehabilitation or treatment center.
“I don't know that it should be our job to determine where these businesses are located, outside of the parameters of state law,” Finley said.
With the freedom to plant their businesses where they want, local entrepreneurs have produced a swell of dispensaries throughout the city.
More than a half dozen of the medical marijuana shops have settled down just on Main Street alone. Countless dispensaries can be found as residents expand their treatment options.