Several issues regarding the exploding medical marijuana industry were brought forward during a House interim study at the state capitol attended by District Attorney Chris Boring and Woodward County District 2 Commissioner Clint White on Tuesday.
“The interim study was regarding illegal foreign land acquisition in Oklahoma regarding the heighten concern throughout the state of Oklahoma in illegal land purchases and the impact it has on such a large range of areas,” White said. “During the meeting at the state capitol their were multiple presenters who expressed concerns.”
According to Boring, there are 140 foreign corporations in Oklahoma creating aproximately 48,000 jobs.
“There are legal entities that create millions and millions of dollars for Oklahoma through wind, gas wherever it is,” Boring said. “My concern is, are they (medical marijuana growers) following the domesticated laws in Oklahoma.”
Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA), through Oklahoma statute requires 75 percent of managers, executive officers or partners of the board in a corporation are required to be Oklahoma residents.
“I think that’s really difficult for county commissioners, it’s difficult for OMMA to come in and really delve deep into that,” Boring said. “Not all counties have zoning ordinances or regulations. Some counties have adopted some zoning ordinances and regulations that are enforced. These are minority of counties in Oklahoma.”
A majority of the counties that have regulations are in the northeastern part of the state, according to Boring.
Boring said even though counties don’t have specific codes and ordinances, Oklahoma has statewide minimum standards and requirements in the Oklahoma Uniform Building Code Commission Act.
“There’s a commission that’s set up,” Boring said. “They have the authority and the power to set minimum standards for residential and commercial construction in the state.”
The Oklahoma Uniform Building Code Commission has power to enforce those provision.
“I bring that to your attention because almost on a weekly basis, these forms right here and a certificate of compliance for a business are coming across commissioner’s desks in 77 counties,” Boring addressed those attending the study hearing.”
Boring has cautioned his county commissioners on setting up ordinances and regulations.
“We’re in Northwest Oklahoma, we’re rural. If we don’t want to abide by the city stuff, we go out in the county and we put up a hay barn or we can do whatever we want. That’s the glory of being out in the county,” Boring said. “If a farmer that’s been out there forever wants to drill a (water) well or wants to put up a hay barn or a lean-to, he doesn’t have to come to the county commissioners to get permission.”
Boring closed telling attendees an illegal grow operation in his district was being raided as he spoke.
“This is very near and dear to my heart Northwest Oklahoma, we have a lot of stuff going on, Boring shared. “It’s bad. I hope that you guys can find some solutions and help us deal with this problem.”
Josh Cockroft, senior director of government affairs for the Oklahoma Association of Realtors said brokers and agents across the state are sharing the same concerns.
“In rural areas of the state where you’ll have entities come in and buy large portions of land and severely affect both in the short term and we believe in the long term property value,” Cockroft said.
Sarah Gibson, general council Oklahoma Water Resource Board, presented the impact on water regarding the usage of ground water being used for medical marijuana grow facilities.
Witnesses said each plant can use up to six galls on water per day.
“There are some great concerns for our rural way of life is the reason I was interested in taking on this study,” Rep. Carl Newton, who co-hosted the study. “Currently there are more medical marijuana growers than there are any other type of Ag producer in the state. We are searching for ways to make sure that this industry is done properly and doesn’t negatively effect our existing Ag producers.”