It’s getting a lot more expensive to grow medical cannabis under a new Oklahoma law.
Two Republican lawmakers in Oklahoma, Sen. Darcy Jech (R-Kingfisher) and Rep. Anthony Moore (R-Clinton), sponsored a bill that would impose a $50,000 bond in order to gain a grow license. Gov. Kevin Still signed the bill on April 20.
The reason for the bill is a pile-up of abandoned properties of grow operations that didn’t make it for one reason or another.
“Our state has had many problems with marijuana grows abandoning land and leaving behind a large mess,” Jech said. “This will set a minimum bond amount of $50,000 that can be used to restore the property in the event it is abandoned, or the operation loses its license. Some grows may be required to have a higher bond depending on their reclamation requirements set by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA). Ultimately, this will help clean up valuable farmland that has been harmed by illegal operations and allows OMMA or any other appropriate state agency to recoup costs associated with the cleanup.”
Senate Bill 913 will force cannabis grow businesses to purchase a $50,000 bond from the state that functions similarly to a security deposit. If a grower abandons their property, violates a law or loses their license, the deposit money will be used to restore the property and correct any environmental damage.
News on 6 reports that growers of all kinds will be forced to pay the deposit under the new law.
Indoor, greenhouse, or light deprivation medical cannabis grow facilities are organized under seven tiers—the largest of which will have to pay an additional $250 per acre on top of the $50,000 deposit. Outdoor medical cannabis grow facilities are organized into eight tiers, and the largest ones will also have to pay an additional $250 per acre. Medical cannabis processor licensees are divided into five tiers.
The bill was introduced on Jan 27. It was amended on March 3. It was approved by both chambers by April 19 before being sent to the governor on April 20.
“The measure sets the bond amount at no less than $50,000.00 for each license, but allows the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority to require a higher bond amount depending upon the reclamation requirements of the approved application,” the engrossed bill summary reads.
“The measure authorizes a commercial growing operation to operate without obtaining a bond if the Authority verifies that the permitted land has been owned by the licensee for at least a 5-year period prior to submission of application,” the summary continues. “The measure also authorizes the appropriate agency to recall the bond if the property is abandoned or if the Authority revokes the license of the owner. In this instance, the measure requires that the bond is used to defray the costs of restoring the property.”
The bill summary notes, “no impact is anticipated,” but growers are unlikely to agree with that assessment. Growers may be forced to pay higher than $50,000 if there are reclamation requirements as well.
“The Authority or the Department of Environmental Quality may require a higher amount depending upon the reclamation requirements of the approved application.”
When an illegal or noncompliant grow operation gets shut down, the deposit money would go to restoring the land.
The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics (OBN) says it has shut down more than 800 illegal grow operations in the last two and a half years. The problem is massive: According to the OBN, the bureau investigated roughly half of Oklahoma’s licensed growers.
The bill goes into effect immediately. “… This act shall take effect and be in full force from and after its passage and approval,” the bill reads.