One of my morning rituals is listening to the news as I get ready for work. And blessedly, the anchors had found something other than COVID to talk about. This morning's headline was Oklahoma's latest attempt to legalize recreational weed.
Sipping my cup of coffee, I couldn't help but think, Well that's a terrible idea.
I am an advocate for recreational weed. I believe no one should have to have the state's permission to smoke a plant. However, after working in Oklahoma's medical industry, my opinions became somewhat complex.
Simply put, Oklahoma is not ready for a recreational market. We have the demand, but an influx of yet another wave of licenses could cripple the industry and place us in a similar position to California. For Oklahoma to have a fully functioning and healthy recreational market, there are a few things to be corrected first.
Consistent and Responsible Regulations
Everyone in the Oklahoma cannabis industry knows about the METRC headache that plagued 2021. The back and forth on whether or not it was mandated cost businesses thousands and added unnecessary workloads to employees. The emergency rules that were handed down from the governor threw everything into confusion even further.
What Oklahoma needs is consistent and responsible regulations that make sense for the market. Constantly changing rules and back and forth battles muddy the waters and make it hard for quality businesses to remain compliant. Simply put, it needs to figure out its medical program first before bringing in recreational.
I have seen multiple people turn up their nose at quality weed in favor of poorer quality products simply because it is cheaper. While flower is king in Oklahoma, some of the quality is lacking (to say the least). To be sure, the Oklahoma market is maturing as consumers are learning more about cannabis, but it is hard for quality brands to compete when the market is flooded with poor quality bud at rock bottom prices.
Abolishing Outdated Stereotypes
This is an old issue for any marijuana industry. Outdated anti-cannabis propaganda continues to plague cannabis workers. Struggles with housing, banking, and travel are realities for thousands working within the legal industry. With outdated and incorrect information still in circulation, these problems run the risk of being amplified in an industry not yet ready to support recreational.
While I personally believe any human on this planet has the right to cannabis, opening a market that is attempting to fix its medical program could lead to problems for consumers and industry professionals alike. Oklahoma needs to fix its medical program before expanding into recreational. Once these problems are addressed, a well-formed recreational program can open many opportunities for the state.