The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) is now solidly under new management of Travis Kirkpatrick. In the fall of 2019, the entire Oklahoma Health Dept. faced yet another change in leadership when Tom Bates left to seek a different appointment from Governor Stitt.
SoonerPolitics was at the State Health Dept. when more than 100 cannabis patients held a protest of the intransigent silence of both Bates and his former director of the OMMA.
But within weeks the new leadership reached out to industry advocates and legal experts seeking to make sense of the hastily-implemented new rules.
This came at a time when all the licensed medical marijuana businesses (MMBs) were required to comply with rules they had no way of attaining compliance in.
The new leadership of the OMMA, under the interim directorship of Travis Kirkpatrick; granted grace periods, but the monthly reporting of the OMMA began to show radical decreases in MMB licenses. Those growers, processors, & dispensaries seeking county documents (which didn't exist in most counties), were spending massive funds in legal services just to make their best showing of good faith to comply with the nuttiness at the OMMA.
But now the new director seems to have nearly all of the MMB application backlog resolved. Only about 600 incompleted applications are in the system.
We can surmise that some ventures may have given up midway through applying, or decided to start a new application in a new business location.
Patient advocates are celebrating the renewed focus on quality of service that has returned to the OMMA. The office finally reopened their call center, to expedite resolution of various snags which have kept patients from beginning their therapies for several weeks, in the past.
The business complaints have also fallen off. While the OMMA has picked up their attentiveness, other state agencies have at times remained uncooperative.. especially some county and municipal govts. who treat these licensed medical facilities like some sort of scourge on the community, or on the level of some sexual-oriented venture.
One lawmaker has even filed a bill to force all MMBs nearly a quarter mile away from any property owned, rented, or used for occasional meetings, offices, storage, or shrines. Several churches say they have no problem with the nearby dispensaries, but Rep. Jim Olsen (a fundamentalist Evangelist) did not allow for a waiver whereby those local churches can ask the dispensary to stay.
Rep. Scott fetgatter & other lawmakers are likely to address bills like this when the Legislative Town Hall on Marijuana Policy is held January 21st, in Tulsa.
About 6.3% of Oklahomans are licensed to utilize cannabis-based medicines. That's approaching the same percent of Oklahomans who are certified American Indians.
There is 1 licensed dispensary for every 105 patients. But a growing number of patients are cultivating their own trusted & identified strain of cannabis. This is partly due to the cost of the purchased medicines remaining rather high, in Oklahoma.
But for many patients it's more about medicine purity and ratio of therapeutic contents which best address their health needs.
An area of significant potential to grow, is the free caretaker license. Less than 1% of patients have requested their physicians to name a loved one or neighbor to be authorized to go get the medicine in a time of need. the Caretaker license is completely free and tied to the expiration date of the patient license.
A Caregiver license provides every possession and cultivation authority that the patient to have, but the caregiver cannot consume the medicine lawfully.
Some caregivers even cultivate the patient's medicine at a separate legal location. This helps when an elderly pain management patient resides at an assisted living facility & doesn't have permission to grow personal cannabis plants in their private rooms.