Rep. Williams: Regulating medical marijuana

Rep. Danny Williams

We wrapped up our legislative session last week, and our final bill dealt with regulation of the medical marijuana industry. Since being elected to the Legislature in November, I’ve heard from numerous constituents in House District 28 who have concerns with regulation of the industry.

Voters approved medical marijuana for use in Oklahoma in June 2018, and the Legislature then established the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, which began offering licenses for consumption and production of the product in fall 2018. OMMA is also responsible for collection of taxes on the product.

However, the language of the state question didn’t include any rules for regulation of the industry. Stakeholders on all sides of the issue have asked for structure, so the Legislature has worked the last few years to regulate this new industry as necessary.

Since the industry launched in 2018, it has seen exponential growth far beyond what anybody expected. Each year, the Legislature runs a few bills to address issues regarding that have been brought to our attention.

This year, we approved House Bill 2646 to give OMMA more authority to revoke licenses that are deemed illegal. The state budget for Fiscal Year 2022, which begins July 1, also gives OMMA additional funding so they can hire more agents, inspectors, attorneys and other employees to manage the number of licensees the agency works with.

Additionally, we passed House Bill 2272. This bill requires OMMA to conduct on-site inspections of a licensee or applicant for any medical marijuana business license issued to ensure compliance with the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana and Patient Protection Act. The bill also requires owners of facilities to disclose if there is any foreign ownership under penalty of perjury. Licenses will be revoked for anyone in violation of the act.

Our final bill of the session was Senate Bill 1033, which gives a means for enforcing some of the legislation passed this year by allowing OMMA to enter into a mutual agreement with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs so more agents can be hired to investigate and enforce the new laws.

Through these bills, we are adding structures in place to regulate and help give clarity to the duties of OMMA and others working within the industry. I’m glad we passed many bills this session to help regulate the industry at the request of stakeholders and constituents, as well as curtail the illegal black market activity happening in this industry within our state.

Anyone having an issue with a medical marijuana business or has any questions regarding compliance or the licensing process can contact OMMA. You can find information about the best email to contact for your problem at https://oklahoma.gov/omma/help/contact.html. 

Although our regular session has wrapped up for the year, we will come back for a special session later this fall to consider adjustments to the new legislative districts that we drafted following last year’s census. We’re still waiting on final data from the U.S. Census Bureau, so we’ll make any necessary changes once we receive those numbers. We’ll also spend July hosting town hall meetings across the state to hear constituents’ opinions on the boundaries of their congressional district, which we will draft and approve in special session this fall.

Although I won’t be in my Capitol office as regularly now that session has wrapped, I’ll continue to work from District 28 to learn about the issues facing my constituents and consider possible solutions. It’s been a productive first session at the Capitol!

Rep. Danny Williams, a Republican, represents House District 28 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. His district includes Seminole County and northern Pottawatomie County.