Medicinal cannabis patients from across the country would be permitted to participate in Oklahoma’s medical marijuana program under a bill working its way through the state legislature. The measure, House Bill 2022, has been referred to the Oklahoma Senate’s Business, Commerce and Tourism Committee after being approved by the House of Representatives last month.
The bill would open eligibility for a medical marijuana license to use and buy medicinal cannabis to all nonresidents. Republican Rep. Scott Fetgatter, the sponsor of the bill, confirmed that the measure applies to patients from across the country. Under current regulations, only patients from states with their own medical marijuana programs are eligible for a nonresident license.
“It does allow people in all 50 states to come to the state of Oklahoma for their medical needs,” said Fetgatter.
To receive a nonresident medical marijuana license, patients would be required to get a recommendation from an Oklahoma physician and pay a fee of $200. The license application would also have to be approved by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority.
Nonresident License Expiration Dates Extended
House Bill 2022 also extends the length of time that medical marijuana licenses for nonresident patients are valid from 30 days to two years. The change brings the expiration dates for nonresident licenses in line with those for Oklahoma residents. Fetgatter said that the extension would support the needs of nonresident patients.
“There are patients out there that need longer opportunities, whether they have cancer or some other medical issue, so I felt it was necessary to just extend that out so they’re not having to constantly renew that license,” he said.
Daryoush Austin Zamhariri, the chief editor of the online marijuana news site Texas Cannabis Collective, said that opening up eligibility to all nonresidents will make cannabis accessible to millions of patients in Texas, which currently has no medical marijuana program.
“It’s almost coming to the point where, as a medical marijuana patient the idea is: OK, well, if you live anywhere on the border of Texas, access is not going to be the issue. It’s about enforcement,” Zamhariri said. “And if we can just end the arrests for marijuana possession, then we don’t really have to worry about a medical marijuana program in Texas.”
House Also Approves Bill Allowing Transfer Of Marijuana Licenses
Another measure, House Bill 2023, has also been referred to the Senate Business, Commerce and Tourism Committee after being approved by the House last month. Under that bill, which was also introduced by Fetgatter, licenses for medical marijuana businesses would be transferable in the event of a change of ownership. The bill was approved in the House despite the concerns of some members that the change could lead to monopolies in Oklahoma’s medical marijuana market.
“We live in a free-market world,” Fetgatter said. “Businesses change hands all the time. I don’t know why, all of a sudden, it’s just a concern about who may or may not come purchase a marijuana business.”
To become law, the bills will have to gain the approval of the Senate and be signed by Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt.