Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has signed legislation to increase funding for medical cannabis enforcement and crack down on illegal sales in the state.
One of the bills recently signed into law will provide grant funding for county sheriffs to dedicate a full-time deputy to assist with the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority’s (OMMA) compliance visits to medical cannabis operations, according to The Oklahoman.
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That legislation’s sponsors said the bill was meant to allow law enforcement officers to help OMMA officials in instances where licensed medical cannabis businesses are unwilling to allow inspectors on their property, which the sponsors said has happened 181 times between April 2021 and February 2022, The Oklahoman reported.
The bill creates a revolving fund that earmarks $5 million annually for county sheriffs to dedicate an officer to the OMMA for one year, according to the news outlet.
Now that the legislation has been signed into law, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control will provide training for these dedicated officers, The Oklahoman reported.
Stitt also signed a bill that increases the state’s penalties for illegal medical cannabis sales, according to the news outlet.
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Under that law, registered patients who buy and then sell medical cannabis to someone who is not enrolled in the program could be fined $5,000 for the first offense and $15,000 for subsequent violations, The Oklahoman reported.
A third medical cannabis-related bill signed by Stitt separates the OMMA from the Oklahoma State Department of Health, designating the regulatory body as its own entity, according to the news outlet.
“It’s important that OMMA has the ability to meet the ever-changing needs of Oklahoma’s marijuana industry,” Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, told The Oklahoman. “And separating the authority as a stand-alone agency will give OMMA the flexibility it needs to effectively lead in all facets, including enforcing the laws set forth by the Legislature and investigating any violations.”
The OMMA can now hire additional personnel, fill leadership positions and create its own administrative rules, allowing it to more aggressively crack down on illicit cannabis activity, according to the news outlet.
Stitt will have the authority to choose a director to lead the OMMA when the legislation takes effect Nov. 1, The Oklahoman reported.