Oklahoma Lawmakers Attempt To Be Judge, Jury, & Executioner For Cannabis Industry
When June came to a close, the Oklahoma cannabis industry held its breath waiting to see if the restraining order against the state would be extended or if the seed to sale program, Metrc, would become mandatory. After waiting with mounting anxiety, the news was released that the restraining order would stay in place until further notice.
However, just after the announcement of the restraining order extension, Governor Stitt signed emergency rules for Medical Marijuana regulation. The 112 page document was pushed out with surprising speed that left many in the industry upset. When reading through the document to see the new rules concerning a state approved seed-to-sale tracking program, it appeared to say, "You don't have to use Metrc, but you have to use something identical to it."
As one of many who work with compliance in the industry, the first call I made the next morning was to upper management asking for clarification. What did we need to do to remain compliant? So much had happened in the last 24 hours that we did not know what we were required to do.
After the emergency rules were announced, the industry pushed back. Ronald E. Durbin of Durbin Law, who has led the charge in the fight against Metrc, stated in a Facebook post, "I’m as confused as everyone about the conflicting and poorly thought out statements from the OMMA this morning. I have emailed their attorney asking if it was their intention to violate the TRO with this most recent statement. The TRO prohibiting the state from implementing Metrc is in full force and effect. Nothing has changed except the OMMA has again decided to cause utter confusion in the industry."
With the applied legal pressure, OMMA pulled back, releasing a clarified statement concerning seed-to-sale tracking. According to a bulletin published by OMMA on July 8, 2021, "Pursuant to a court agreement, OMMA is extending the beginning inventory deadline for the state’s seed-to-sale tracking system, Metrc, and new seed-to-sale tracking rules will not be enforced until further guidance is provided by the court."
While this back and forth may make good headlines, it is a nightmare for those working within the industry. Cannabis laws change frequently enough as it is, causing mass confusion on such a large scale casts a spotlight on the problem as a whole.
Reasonable regulation is needed. Rapidly changing laws written by those who know nothing about cannabis is a hindrance.
Make no mistake, Oklahoma's legal cannabis industry is the wild west when compared to states like Colorado. But creating unnecessary laws and emergency rulings only holds back the industry from progress. Instead of listening to those knowledgeable about the industry, lawmakers have taken it upon themselves to be judge, jury, and executioner of a plant most of them know nothing about.