“We have to fix the problem,” Cannabis advocates file petition to change Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A group of cannabis advocates has filed a citizen initiative petition for an amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution to remove the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority out from under the oversight of the State Department of Health.

Supporters say the politics and bureaucratic red tape is limiting the authority’s ability to do its job.

“Difficulties that we have seen with OMMA being under the State Department of Health basically started month one,” said Oklahomans for Responsible Cannabis Action Director Jed Green. “There have been virtually little action on compliance and enforcement.”

Green played a major role in getting State Question 788 passed, which legalized medical marijuana.
He says a lack of oversight is also encouraging illegal operations.

“What we see with the explosive growth and a lot of the illegal grows is not because we voted for [State Question] 788,” he said. “It’s because we had bureaucratic non-function for a 2-year period of time.”

Green says separating OMMA is the only way to improve transparency and their ability to regulate.

“It allows our community and our industry to work with a singular agency that doesn’t have the bureaucratic fat of the OSDH attached to it,” he said. “We know when we’re talking to our director that is who is making those decisions.”

Representative Scott Fetgatter says he has tried to separate the two in the Legislature – but they can’t advance past the Senate. He says the agency is being bogged down by having to answer to multiple groups to make any decision.

Rep. Fetgatter told KFOR that the issues became clear when he recently took six legislators to tour one of the largest marijuana facilities in the state.

“This facility is 10 minutes from the state capitol,” he said. “I asked while we were all there how many times has OMMA been here to inspect the facility, and the answer was zero.”

OMMA’s Executive Director Adria Berry couldn’t comment on the current petition, but she did say they are increasing staff to keep up with the growing industry.

“We are staffing up so that we have enough compliance officers on staff to inspect every single licensed business,” she said. “We are also staffing up an investigative unit with peace officers who can go out and investigate alleged criminal activity related to licensed facilities.”

However, Rep. Fetgatter says that increase only happened because lawmakers stepped in.

“It’s not because the DOH gave them permission,” he said. “It’s because the Legislature said, ‘We’re three years into this. We have to fix the problem.’”

The petition has a 10-day window where an individual or entity can challenge the constitutionality of their proposal.

After that, they would need 178,000 signatures in 90 days.

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