If you haven't been paying attention to the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Act of 2021, then you should start paying attention now. In early February, House Bill 2272, or the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Act of 2021, was introduced. And right from the start, the free market has pushed back. Why? It would hurt small marijuana businesses.
According to HB 2271, "The measure directs the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) to cap the number of dispensaries, processor and grower licenses beginning September 1, 2021, the number of current active licenses combined with the total number of applications pending that were submitted prior to that date."
The bill itself would put a verbal noose around the necks of small business owners in the marijuana industry. Besides creating a bottleneck on how many licenses will be distributed to grow facilities, processors, and dispensaries, it would increase startup costs and "require that a dispensary licensee have a minimum of Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00) per month in gross monthly sales calculated on a twelve-month rolling average."
Of course, there are other provisions that would rub any other business owner the wrong way, such as dictating how close dispensaries can be to each other (imagine if they did that to fast food restaurants).
The excuse of the legal market feeding the black market is weak at best. Metrc, a seed to sale software required by many states with legal marijuana, went live in Oklahoma at the beginning of February. Metrc is known for its strict guidelines and in-depth reporting. And coming from the Colorado marijuana industry, this author can personally testify that Metrc does not mess around when it comes to monitoring its users closely and auditing the ones with reporting accuracies. Implementing Metrc nullifies the weak black market excuse.
Arkansas did something similar to their marijuana industry right out of the gate, and as a result, their laws have created a vast amount of issues. There are 22 operational marijuana dispensaries in the state, and they cannot produce enough cannabis to keep up with demand.
If HB 2272 passes, it could easily be the death for mom and pop marijuana businesses. Small business owners should not be punished for operating on a smaller scale. This bill could lead us down the road we don't want to be on. Marijuana has proven to be recession resilient and has created a boon for the economy. Why would we want to hurt that by passing laws that would ultimately hurt small businesses?
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