There were a lot of concerns when Oklahoma voters approved medical marijuana in 2018. It was unclear how the marijuana industry would develop. The number of marijuana businesses also skyrocketed with very little regulation, making the state the largest holder of licensed marijuana businesses in 2020.
Several years after the voting, those queries are still being raised. State Question 820 was up for vote on March 7, 2023, when voters went to the polls. The measure would legalize marijuana use for adults over the age of 21, allow for the growth of up to six marijuana plants, and open the door to expunging some prior cannabis-related offenses.
Cannabis legalization, according to panelists at an SQ 820 online town hall hosted by the ACLU in January, would enable state businesses to compete with the black market.
There are more than 373,000 medical cannabis users in Oklahoma, according to the Medical Cannabis Authority, the body in charge of the state’s cannabis market. Additionally, there are more than 2,700 dispensaries and over 7,000 growers.
The processing of new grower, dispensary and processor license applications was, however, halted last year by the HB 3208 bill. This bill was approved by the state legislature and signed by Governor Kevin Stitt. This moratorium was in effect starting in August 2022 and could last up to two years.
Legislators have also stated that it is challenging to control the industry since the approval of SQ 788, the measure that legalized medical marijuana in 2018.
Businesses are hopeful and eager to enter new markets if SQ 820 is approved. According to Arshad Lasi, CEO of Nirvana Group, the marijuana industry is prepared to face the complexity of entering the recreational market. However, he claims that some medical cannabis patients are still hesitant because they are concerned about what might happen. They believe that since the market for recreational or adult-use products is a bit larger, prices may go up, quality may decline, or consumers will be given more preferential treatment.
And while some business operators perceive the legalization of recreational marijuana as a threat to local businesses due to invasion by multistate businesses, Lasi believes that adult-use cannabis increases market share for everybody, and if businesses are doing things by the book, they will see the benefits.
A clause in SQ 820 would give current Oklahoman business owners two years to apply for new licenses from the OMMA to serve recreational customers.
As the results of the March 7 poll trickle in, a wide variety of companies, including Advanced Container Technologies Inc. (OTC: ACTX), will be watching to see whether yet another state has decided to open a regulated recreational marijuana market.
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