Two charged with selling medical marijuana to people without a card

Two employees at an Oklahoma City medical marijuana dispensary have been charged with supplying to customers who don’t have a medical marijuana license. It’s a wakeup call to all dispensaries to improve their training and be much more aware of who is buying and who is selling.

The two employees were caught by an undercover cop in Oklahoma City. The cop bought medical marijuana on three different occasions from Herb-N-Legends dispensary located near Northwest 26th Street and North MacArthur Boulevard without the proper license. This resulted in charges being brought against the two employees who served the cop for illegal distribution of marijuana.

State law in Oklahoma requires all medical marijuana dispensaries to check for a valid license before the sale.

“Some evidence was seized from the business pertaining to these illegal sales,” said Sgt. Megan Morgan, with the Oklahoma City Police Department. That evidence apparently includes CTV footage from the store showing the transaction and the employees not checking for the medical marijuana license.

Tightening ship

This news should act as a wakeup call to all medical marijuana dispensaries. This is a new industry that is often tolerated grudgingly and not without bad feeling. It’s an industry that while legal, still needs to work extra hard to ensure it stays on the right side of the law and play the game well enough to stay legal and compliant at all times.

This incident shows that all dispensaries need to improve staff training and oversight and ensure every employee knows state law, the correct procedure for selling medical marijuana and the penalties for not complying with those laws.

The bust has gotten news coverage and is generating the kind of negative PR the medical marijuana industry doesn’t need. If used as a learning opportunity by dispensaries in Oklahoma City, hopefully we should not see this kind of story again!

Oklahoma getting ready for increased compliance rules

Despite being passed just over a year ago, a lot of work has gone into making Oklahoma a safe, reliable place to access medical marijuana. There is more work to be done though and medical cannabis businesses in the state are preparing for a raft of new regulations designed to make the industry safe and compliant.

Expanding regulation inevitably includes expanding the cost and overhead of those regulations. Something the new medical marijuana businesses have to shoulder themselves.

New regulations are expected around package labeling, product testing, waste management and seed-to-sale tracking. The intent is to keep the MMJ industry as clean as possible, enforce consistent packaging standards across the state, enforce safe product testing and effective, sustainable waste management.

The seed-to-sale audit system will ensure only legal sources of cannabis are used and that organized crime or other entities don’t get a foothold in the industry. All businesses dealing with medical marijuana have to have a full inventory tracking system in place that can track where the cannabis came from, the transport method, the type and a range of other identifiable metrics.

Growing business

Oklahoma is making a huge effort to control this business while keeping it viable. It has huge potential with forecasts estimating a revenue of between $140-$180 million in the first year alone. That’s without the jobs and tax revenue a new industry brings with it.

So far, Oklahoma has issued over 7,300 business licenses and well over 200,000 patient licenses for medical marijuana. That’s just in that same first year. The numbers for both are expected to grow exponentially which is why the authorities want to set up a coherent system to manage it.

The passage of the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana and Patient Protection Act last spring has change the landscape completely. As has the so-called “Unity Bill” and a number of “trailer bills” dealing with specific issues such as waste management. Local cities and authorities are trying to stifle the industry by setting much tougher rules but don’t seem to be having much luck.

So far, regulators seem to have the balance right. Necessary regulation to help maintain the industry with enough legislation to exert the control necessary to enforce safety and standards. Even the industry association agrees.

Bud Scott, executive director of the Oklahoma Cannabis Industry Association, said he wouldn’t call the regulations strict per se, but “straightforward and necessary.”

“The industry association supports this because there’s so much illegal activity occurring, and we want to support businesses that are doing it right,” he said.

Impending changes to tighten up the medical marijuana industry include:

  • An increase in approval times for business licenses, up from 14 days to 90 days to allow further scrutiny.
  • More stringent residency requirements where 75% of the businesses owners need to have been resident in Oklahoma for at least five years.
  • Clear packaging with ‘THC’ front and center with a statement saying the cannabis has been tested for contaminants. Packaging must also be clear, not purposely attractive and make no health benefit claims.
  • Testing enforcement for all growers and processors. All batches must be tested by an approved laboratory prior to sale. They must be tested for heavy metals, pesticides, THC and terpene potency.
  • Waste management only by licensed disposal companies with appropriate facilities.

That’s a lot of new compliance but even the most cynical should realize it will all benefit the customer. Aside from the seed-to-sale system, the customer benefits from all of the changes being put forward and that should also benefit the industry as a whole.

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