ENID, Okla. — From insomnia to anxiety, nausea to a lack of appetite or for aches and pains, patients seeking relief to numerous aliments are turning to their local dispensaries.
Since the passage of State Question 788 in 2018, nearly 250,000 Oklahomans have received their licenses to possess, grow and use medical marijuana and local dispensaries say the number will continue to grow.
Latest licensing numbers
SQ 788 passed by 57%, making Oklahoma the 30th state to legalize medical use of cannabis and creating Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, which operates under the Oklahoma Department of Health.
As of Jan. 31, the most recent figures available, 268,201 applications in the state have been received for a medical marijuana card, caregiver’s license or business license.
Of those applications, 258,604 have been approved, including 247,190 patient cards issued, 1,896 caregiver licenses, 5,704 grower licenses, 1,488 processor licenses, 2,302 dispensary licenses, 12 transportation licenses, two waste disposal licensees and 10 laboratory licenses.
According to OMMA data, there have been 18 dispensary licenses issued to addresses in Enid, as of Feb. 19, and 41 licenses issued to growers with an Enid address. The data does not confirm an open business or operation, only a license issued.
‘It helps with so many things’
“A lot of times, they come in to resolve their anxiety, sleep insomnia. We get a lot of cancer patients,” said Kush Gardens Manager Travis Tietz. “We get a lot of people that come in for their seizures. A lot of people come in for a lot of medical purposes on an everyday basis.”
Tietz said the store in Enid also sees a lot of minors coming in, with a parent or caregiver, for seizures or anxiety.
“It helps ease them, soothes them,” he said. “It helps level them out back to where they are normal.”
Brandy Frisbee, manager of Natural Remedies MMJ Dispensary, said she’s been in the medical marijuana industry for 11 years in other states and has seen it change patients’ lives.
“I love this industry,” she said. “I have seen it do a lot of things for a lot of people.”
She said the store’s youngest patient is 11 years old. The girl suffers from bipolar DMDD, depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
“She is a pretty fantastic little girl. Her mom is also a patient. She is just incredible,” Frisbee said. “The focus she has is incredible, and she no longer shakes, which is what she is most excited about.”
Frisbee said the store also serves a patient who finds relief for some of his Parkinson’s Disease symptoms.
“He not only has seen better mobility of his hands but his shaking. It helps with the shaking,” she said. “He said, ‘I don’t shake any more.’”
Frisbee said the dispensary also sees cancer patients, both those battling the disease and in remission.
“We’ve had lots of cancer patients in. The ones that come in are mostly coming in just so they can eat, not vomit and have an appetite,” she said. “We’ve got a multitude of cancer patients that come. Even ones that are cleared of cancer but suffering the aftermath of radiation and chemo.
“It helps with so many things. I have watched it help so many people.”
‘Everyone is different’
The ways medical marijuana can be given to patients range from smoking the flower of the plant to edibles or gummies and vape products to tinctures.
Tietz said Kush Gardens sells tinctures to those who just place a drop under their tongue or into a drink.
“It just depends on you as a person. Everyone is different,” he said. “You can build up an immune system to it. Step yourself into it and know what you’re working with because everyone is different.
Tietz said all products sold at his dispensary are prepackaged to prevent any contamination. He said they work with a processing company that heat seals and dates their products.
“In California, Colorado and Oregon that is the way it’s done,” he said.
Frisbee said Natural Remedies carries most all the products on the market and the accessories needed for their consumption.
Stigma of ‘war on drugs’
She said one thing that might keep those from trying medical marijuana is the stigma associated with it.
“The U.S. spent millions on the war on drugs. Marijuana has been used medicinally for thousands and thousands of years,” she said. “We have this older generation that is so against it, and their kids and grandkids are pushing them to try it. It’s a stigma because people just don’t know it has medicinal value.”
Frisbee said those older patients who are coming in are doing so because they have heard of the benefits medical marijuana can provide.
“We’re at the point now where a lot of people know someone marijuana has benefited medicinally,” she said. “It’s not a bad thing. It’s been greatly beneficially to patients in Oklahoma, and all over the world.
“For me, I’m just excited for people to hear about somebody and know somebody personally that’s benefitted from marijuana personally. I think the industry is going to change a lot and go more medicinal.”
Obtaining a license
Oklahoma’s Medical Marijuana Authority offers two types of patient licenses.
A new, short-term, 60-day medical marijuana patient license will be available for Oklahoma patients whose physicians’ recommendation is only valid for 60 days.
Patients will need to provide a 60-Day physician recommendation form, which is available on the agency’s web page — http://omma.ok.gov/ — and select this license type in their online application. The license application fee will be $100 or, for Medicaid/SoonerCare or Medicare enrollees, $20. A reduced application fee of $20 will apply for 100% disabled veterans. A letter from the Veteran’s Administration or other federal agency listing the applicant’s disability status as 100% disabled must be submitted with the application to receive the discount.
Once the application has been submitted, it will be reviewed by OMMA. If it is deemed complete and meets all requirements, an approval letter with a license will be mailed within 14 days of the application submission date.
If an application is incomplete due to unclear or missing information or documents, applicants will receive email correspondence stating the reasons it is incomplete.
Applicants will be able to log back in to their accounts to make corrections once an email is received. The submission date is the date a complete application is provided.
If an application is reviewed and denied because all requirements have not been met, a denial letter stating the reasons for denial will be mailed within 14 days of submission.
A patient license is valid for two years from the date it is issued, or 60 days from the date it is issued for short-term licenses, unless the license is revoked by the physician or OMMA.
For a patient to get a license, Oklahomans age 18 and older must obtain a signed adult patient physician recommendation form. Oklahomans under the age 18 must get two physicians’ signatures. This must be documented on the minor patient physician recommendation forms.