Oklahoma gets 600 medical marijuana dispensary applications
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority has received nearly 7,330 license applications for patients and 600 applications for dispensaries, signaling the potential start of a competitive marketplace with light regulations.
Oklahoma’s ratio of medical marijuana patients to dispensaries would be about 12 to 1 if each business had its application approved and managed to open, according to the state statistics released Monday.
Industry leaders disagree about whether the business landscape would be sustainable in the long run, the Tulsa World reported.
Oklahoma voters approved a state question in June to allow cannabis to be used as medicine and Bud Scott, the director of trade group New Health Solutions Oklahoma, said the market is still underdeveloped.
“We need to be careful about how our market evolves,” Scott said. “But this is what the people voted for and our Legislature decided not to take any real actions to implement control we’ve seen in other markets, so now here we are. It’s kind of survival of the fittest to see who makes it and who doesn’t.”
Scott doesn’t expect commercial license fee revenue to sustain itself at the same level each year, particularly if patient license numbers don’t meet demand. Commercial applications cost $2,500.
“I think everyone with $2,500 and the ability to buy (cannabis) should get to go into business,” said Chris Moe, who works with grassroots group Green The Vote and helped propose regulations to lawmakers this summer.
But Moe said he understands why the current law could make it difficult for businesses to make a profit. Retailers’ products will likely be on the shelves all at once, which would drive down prices, he said.
Medical trade groups, such as the Oklahoma State Medical Association and the Oklahoma Hospital Association, lobbied for a cap of 50 dispensaries statewide until patient license numbers match demand. But the state Board of Health decided not to include a dispensary limit in emergency rules approved in August, determining that the board didn’t have authority to create such a restriction.
Legislators likely won’t make any changes to the medical marijuana law until the next session, which begins in February.
Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com