Tens of thousands of Oklahomans have already enrolled in the state’s medical marijuana program. In a little more than a month, those patients will purchase products that have undergone mandated testing.
Beginning April 1, all medical cannabis dispensaries in the state will be required to carry products that have been tested in a laboratory licensed by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority.
According to the Tulsa World, there are ten labs in the state currently licensed by the authority, “with more in different stages of the licensing process.” The newspaper reported that cannabis in the state is “required to be tested for cannabinoid content (including THC potency), terpene profile and the presence of pesticides, heavy metals or other contaminants.”
The Success of Oklahoma’s Medical Cannabis Program
Oklahoma voters approved a measure legalizing medical marijuana in 2018, and the new law took effect last August after lawmakers in the state passed a bill establishing regulations over the new program. The legislation included packaging and labeling requirements, while also imposing a ban on smokable cannabis flower and limits on the amount of THC in medical marijuana products.
The program has been a roaring success, with Oklahoma boasting one of the highest participation rates among states that have legalized medical cannabis. The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority said last July that it had approved 146,381 licenses for patients to receive medicinal cannabis, which meant that more than 3.5% of the state’s entire population had enrolled as patients.
That number vastly exceeded what state officials expected for the first year of enrollment. After the measure passed on the ballot in 2018, officials said they anticipated roughly 80,000 patients enrolling in the opening year.
Karen O’Keefe, the director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, said last summer that Oklahoma “has among the best medical marijuana programs in the country in terms of patients having relief quickly without a bunch of hurdles they and their physicians have to jump through.”
“I think it helped there was a noncompetitive application process,” O’Keefe said. “You don’t have the government deciding how many pharmacies can operate. For the most part, we let the free market decide.”
But lawmakers continue to offer up reforms to the nascent program, drawing pushback from patients and advocates. Hundreds of protesters swarmed Oklahoma’s state capitol to rally against a pair of bills offered up in the legislature. One proposal would ban billboards advertising medical cannabis; another would prohibit dispensaries from being built near churches.