What comes to mind when you think of Oklahoma? Cows? Buffalo? The Pioneer Woman? The musical Oklahoma? Choctaw Native Americans?
For me, it’s a broad expanse of freeway that seemingly stretches into oblivion, guarded by some of the cruelest Highway Patrolmen I’ve ever encountered—but hey, that’s because my only Oklahoma experience involved driving through the state on a cross-country trip, where I managed to win not one, but two speeding tickets within one single day. As I drove to Arizona from Illinois, I got one ticket crossing the Eastern Oklahoma border, and another just shy of 10 miles from New Mexico’s border.
Despite that bad road trip experience, Oklahoma is a lush agricultural mecca beneath Kansas bordered by Arkansas to the East, Texas to the South; and New Mexico and Colorado to the West. The state is a major producer of natural gas, oil and agricultural products relying on an “economic base of aviation, energy, telecommunications, and biotechnology.” The economy of Oklahoma is greening, in fact—the state has legalized marijuana with superb bureaucratic swiftness unrivaled by any other American state.
What will soon come to mind when one thinks of Oklahoma: marijuana. The Marijuana Business Factbook projects that Oklahoma’s medical marijuana market has the potential to generate an annual $150 – $250 million. And according to Marijuana Policy Project, “On June 26, 2018, Oklahoma voters legalized medical marijuana. Since then, the state has become the quickest in the nation to fully implement an effective medical cannabis law.” The proof is in the numbers published by Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA): as of May 1, 2019, 112,811 patient, 1,664 caregiver, and 5,211 business applications have been received—119,686 total. 104,548 patient, 1,296 caregiver, 1,432 dispensary, 2,788 grower, and 767 processor licenses have been approved—110,831 total.
CannaCon landed in Oklahoma City April 18th and 19th to overwhelming support and buzz, and will visit again on Friday, September 27th and Saturday the 28th. The April event hosted over 8,700 attendees and just under 200 exhibitors. The Oklahoma market was refreshingly different from any other state: rapid licensing approvals and relaxed laws minimize the need for complex testing, and there doesn’t seem to be much regulation at all—it’s literally the wild west of weed, where one can toke up anywhere smoking is allowed.
According to Wikileaf, “Oklahoma’s law authorizes the production, process, and distribution of medical marijuana. Entrepreneurs must obtain the appropriate license in order to grow, process, or sell cannabis at a dispensary. The application for each of these businesses is a non-refundable $2500 that must be paid with a credit or debit card. In order to apply, prospective owners must be Oklahoma residents who are at least 25 years old. Owners may obtain multiple licenses, and there is no cap on how many licenses within each business type may be issued. All owners must submit a background check. Any non-violent felony conviction within the last two years and all other felony convictions in the last five years are disqualifications.” Possession of marijuana by someone who does not have a medical marijuana card is a misdemeanor offense carrying a maximum fine of $400.
In what today resembles a not-so-United States of America, to see Oklahoma respond to new laws with unmatched velocity for bona fide, critical mass demand is a refreshing return to pioneering American values: work hard, work the land, and grow for unity, liberty, and justice for all.
Sara Jayne Crow helps cannabis entrepreneurs find new customers with communications, publicity, and marketing rooted in authentic storytelling at Meridian Media.