As Oklahoma heads towards 2024, cannabis industry employees must get ready for the inevitability of badge requirements. Opinions on this topic are mixed, and rightfully so. There are some good things about requiring badges, but do they outweigh the bad?
What SB 1704 Says
According to Senate Bill 1704, "Beginning January 1, 2024, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority shall require employees of a medical marijuana business licensee to apply for and receive a credential authorizing the employee to work in a licensed medical marijuana business."
The OMMA will partner with third-party vendors to perform the necessary background checks and issue credentials. However, given the past experiences the state has had with the third-party vendor, Metrc, a sense of skepticism is not out of the question.
Pro - Alabi for the scent of cannabis in the car
While working as a badged employee in Colorado, a semi-trailer clipped the front of my car while it was turning. I was sitting at a stop sign and did not have anywhere to turn or move out of the way. The incident was reported as a non-injury accident and the driver admitted fault at the scene. However, since I was coming from work, I smelled of fresh cannabis. The fact that I was able to present my badge and offer to call my manager to verify that I had just gotten off work helped to assure the officer that I was not driving under the influence.
Pro - Increased security measures
Depending on the setup of the badge and the security measures, badges can help verify;
Entry access to the premises
Entry access to various areas of the building/premises
Who is on the premises and when
Cannabis theft is a serious problem, and badges can be used to help increase security, keeping both your employees and your product safe.
Con - Could eliminate jobs for hundreds
Depending on the requirements of the background check, some legacy growers who have been working in Oklahoma's cannabis industry for years may be cast out. Part of the appeal of Oklahoma's "Green Rush" was a chance for those with previous cannabis charges to grow legally.
This practice ultimately will hurt the industry, and given the fact that history often repeats itself, could contribute to growth in the black market side of the industry.
Con - Places a financial threshold to jump over
Imagine having to pay to work as a cashier or to stock the shelves in a liquor store. Depending on the requirements, industry employees will have to pay for the background check, physical badge, and any other items required by the OMMA and the vendor.
At the time of this writing, the price for these requirements has not yet been released. However, if they plan to mirror other cannabis programs that require a badge, it could become costly. For example, Colorado's Application fee is $150 for a 2-year badge that is non-refundable if denied.
The Bottom Line
A badging requirement for Oklahoma's cannabis industry does have some benefits, but could also hurt the industry and its workers. It will be prudent for OMMA and its vendors to avoid these pitfalls in order to avoid damaging the industry.
What do you think? Please place your opinions on Oklahoma's cannabis industry badge requirement in the comments below.