Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority seems 'adrift' as Commissioner Bates Prepares His Exit.
Over 12,000 needy patients are waiting for their medicine. The medicine their personal physician recommended for each of them. That's because the OMMA is sliding downhill in their responsiveness to the people who pay their salaries.
On June 1st the OMMA reported a major cleanup of the license processing software and databases. On that date they reported that 1203 licenses were still awaiting further action before a license can be issued. That's less than 1% and likely to include folks who either died, moved, or gave up on the licensing process.
Even if we assume that as a baseline then in the past 14 weeks, the OMMA has fallen behind by over 12,000 additional applications. This reached a serious failure over the past 2 weeks when the OMMA only issued about half the patient licenses that they normally issue, despite having a backlog that is higher than at any time in the past year of legalization.
This newest data came just yesterday, when we again asked the OMMA to release the biweekly data on licensing.
Their response also included a note that they will no longer do weekly or biweekly OMMA licensing data. The best we can now expect from them is going to be monthly reports.
So much for the governor's commitment to agency transparency! Someone either forgot to give the memo to the Health Dept (umbrella state agency for the OMMA); or the OMMA just doesn't care!
What does this mean for patients in urgent need of treatment?
Every other medication that a physician directs can be filled on demand and even administered in the clinic or hospital. But Cannabis patients must take that written physician recommendation and then go get some photos taken to exacting specs. Then they need to dig up residency proof, a legal govt. issued ID, and someone to help fill out internet forms. They must also come up with a major credit card and $100 to pay the OMMA. Then they wait weeks. Sometimes longer. They will next get an email from the OMMA, but they are still illegal to possess or buy the meds until a card comes from the OMMA.
WHO DOES THAT TO PATIENTS IN NEED!
This Thursday a group of patients are gathering at the state health dept at 10th & Cromwell, in OKC. they likely will get refused admittance into the govt. building or even an audience with the OMMA leadership. You see, the OMMA quit answering the phones and never did allow patients to submit applications in person. It's all done by internet forms. The group organising the protest also includes many medical marijuana businesses(MMBs) providing the medicine to patients. the OMMA has failed to communicate clear policy to the MMBs about some last-minute changes that are required for renewing licenses. The MMBs now must attain documents from their municipal or county govt, to certify compliance with zoning and safety ordinances. the problems are several, but these unfunded mandates on municipalities also require official determinations which most cities and counties have now current policy or directive from presiding elected officials. Some of them only meet monthly, and will likely require 60 days to produce the required documents. But the OMMA only announced these rules about a month ago, and some MMB licenses are already expired.
This is the same health dept. which has repeatedly echoed the Bureau of Narcotics who warn that black market drugs can kill you (and that's why they are a felony to sell). That warning now rings hollow when the Health Dept announced their 4th delay in implementation of a legal framework for securing the safety of our medicines. This is the most core service of a state agency of health. the fact that they single this out for more delays, just shows that patient safety seems to be a very low priority.