I held out on the latest edition of the newsletter, because I wanted to spend some time researching the effect of April 20, aka 420, and the entire month of April on Oklahoma’s cannabis industry. As you can see in the chart on cannabis tax receipts below, the effect isn’t as clear in the first full year of retail sales after voters authorized medical marijuana in 2018.
Purchases gradually trended upward during the spring of 2019. Then the effect becomes more pronounced the following year in 2020 when April appears to have been an important time for the industry. Some of those sales could be attributable to the pandemic, of course. But my sense is that cannabis retailers can work throughout the month of April to target new and returning customers beyond the holiday of 420 itself.
I’m sure there are other cannabis consumers in the state who had experiences like my own on the date of 4/20. I felt so overwhelmed by the number of competing deals and events planned to commemorate that single day, I didn’t end up going to any dispensaries. But I’m still interested in your offerings during other days of the month when I feel less-rushed in what is often a cramped retail space as I’m trying to learn the products, read the labeling, and determine my needs and interests.
Lawmakers are in week 13 of the 2021 Oklahoma Legislative Session. The life and death of any proposed cannabis bills are ruled in part by key deadlines. Those deadlines are continuing to pass. The prospects now for some bills becoming law are strong and dimming or gone for others. Here’s a snapshot of the bills that have now passed the House and Senate and are continuing to pass their deadlines:
Summary This is a hefty bill seeking numerous cannabis rule changes that lawmakers have sought in the past but couldn’t address in time. Among its provisions:
Allows dispensaries and growers to package and sell their own pre-rolled joints.
Removes a “good cause” provision that requires state regulators to have specific reasons for denying business-license applications.
Creates a temporary three-day permit for non-residents of Oklahoma.
Specifies that possession without a license “shall constitute a misdemeanor offense not subject to imprisonment.”
Allows state regulators to issue emergency orders without notice or hearing when they suspect violations from businesses.
Summary Appears to significantly enhance criminal penalties in Oklahoma where medical cannabis is “diverted” to someone without a license. In addition to fines already permitted by law, violators could also face criminal charges under the Oklahoma Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Act.
Summary Seeks to toughen enforcement of the cannabis industry by moving the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority out of its current parent agency, the Oklahoma State Department of Health, and over to the Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission.
It’s easy to overlook the small city of Heavener and its 3,300 residents in the southeastern part of Oklahoma. The area is probably best-known to outsiders for curious runestone carvings that have perplexed historians for decades. No one on the internet can even spell the surrounding county’s name correctly.
The Oklahoma Historical Society and Wikipedia spell it “Le Flore” County. The county sheriff spells it “LeFlore” County. So does the local newspaper in Heavener, which has been publishing since before statehood, still publishes today, and has a special section for churches.
Like a lot of communities in tradition-bound Oklahoma, Heavener is grappling with the unfamiliar sensation of state-legal cannabis after decades of prohibition and criminalization.
The city’s four commissioners and mayor with little notice enacted a broadly restrictive “emergency” cannabis ordinance on Feb. 4. A local cannabis watchdog there posted the ordinance online, and it eventually appeared in my Google Alerts.
Oklahoma cannabis regulators overstepped their authority when they created a mandated program for tracking and tracing every cannabis plant and product in the state that required the use of specific electronic tags and software. State officials additionally created a monopoly by picking a single private company to exclusively implement the program with the cost to be borne by the cannabis industry.
That’s according to a lawsuit newly filed in Okmulgee County, in which the cannabis company Dr Z Leaf and its sister businesses say the state of Oklahoma has formulated a “financial windfall” for the Florida-based company Metrc. Its proprietary software and radio-frequency identification tags must be used by every business licensee in the state by a deadline of April 30. The suit only names Oklahoma and its agencies as defendants and not Metrc.
The plaintiffs also say in their suit that forcing licensees to pay for the mandatory tracking program and Metrc’s accompanying technology violates the Oklahoma Constitution. Some 10,000 cannabis businesses could be affected by the questions raised in the lawsuit.
In a 1982 newspaper story, The Oklahoman called it “just like any other church social.” People sang hymns. There were cookies and lemonade. But the group of volunteers recruited from local churches in tiny Newcastle, Oklahoma, just west of Norman, hadn’t assembled that spring day in 1982 for fellowship.
Oklahoma drug enforcers had asked for their help eradicating illegal cannabis growing in a 10-acre field after local authorities complained they didn’t have the resources to destroy it all themselves. The grow had been discovered in the area as lots were being sold for a housing development.
GCM Roundup | Oklahoma and Beyond
State drug enforcers detained and questioned 23 people around a major grow operation in Logan County that authorities believe was selling weed illegally.
The city of Muskogee says it is the first in the state to allow people to smoke cannabis at special events and on select city properties.
The state of Oklahoma borrowed money from fees paid for cannabis licenses to buy $2.6 million worth of hydroxychloroquine. At one time, some believed it could treat COVID-19. The 1.2 million doses expire if unused by December.
The founder of a company in Oakland that manufacturers weed breathalyzers says its first commercial units are shipping this spring. Oklahoma has passed legislation previously that directs state law enforcers to create a pilot program for testing marijuana breathalyzers here.
The governor of Wisconsin is annoyed that he’s losing untold sums in cannabis tax dollars to neighboring Illinois. Leafly estimates that Illinois is taking in $10 million every month from neighboring states. A bill to allow out-of-state residents the ability to acquire licenses for cannabis while here in Oklahoma has missed key deadlines.
One sheriff in New York State says a lot of law enforcement agencies will have to “do away with or retire” their drug-smelling dogs now that cannabis is legal there.
Willie Nelson is hosting a virtual convention for cannabis during the end of April: “Marijuana is an herb and a flower. God put it here.”
An astounding 75 percent of California cities have banned cannabis dispensaries from operating within their boundaries.
A startup company in Kansas is using hemp to help make new prosthetic arms and legs.
Women are a fast-growing demographic in cannabis, and already, far more women have tried it before than men.
People living in Miami are complaining about the smell coming from a sprawling cannabis cultivation center run by Curaleaf.
The cannabis industry in Michigan is contending with the risk of market oversaturation.
There’s a new TV series based on a true story about 20 women who were isolated for three months in 1972 and given lots of weed.
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