Oklahoma cannabis users are on pace to spend twice as much this year compared to 2019.
As of June, Oklahomans spent more than $385,000 this year on medical marijuana. That’s nearly the entire amount spent during 12 months last year, according to an analysis of data from the Oklahoma Tax Commission.
Much of that boost came during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, when collections of the 7% tax on medical marijuana rose dramatically. Sales have leveled off, however, and dipped slightly in June to an estimated $74.8 million.
Oklahoma’s cannabis market attracted the attention of outsiders hoping to cash in on the state’s love of legal marijuana and regulations that are less strict than other states. Peter Barsoom, founder of Colorado-based 1906, recently inked a deal with local businesses to unveil his line of edibles manufactured in pill form.
Barsoom didn’t seek out Oklahoma. Stash House, a distribution company, and 24k Labs reached out to 1906 early this year during a trip to Denver, he said. Barsoom called Oklahoma one of the most exciting markets in the country, partly because of its regulatory structure.
While other states limit the medical conditions that qualify for a medical marijuana recommendation from doctors, Oklahoma has no such restriction. There is no limit on the amount of cannabis a patient can buy. And despite early attempts to ban certain types of product, state law focuses more on ensuring quality and safety for the consumer.
Lawmakers considered additional loosening of regulations this year, but Gov. Kevin Stitt vetoed a bill that would have allowed home delivery and would have created temporary licenses for patients who live outside Oklahoma. If those temporary licenses are approved in next year’s legislative session, Barsoom expects to see another boom in business.
“It’s a long time before Texas is going to move toward legalization or even opening up cannabis. And there are millions of people within driving distance of Oklahoma that need access and want access to this important plant medicine,” Barsoom said. “Assuming that Oklahoma moves forward on parts of the legislation that were vetoed, I think we’ll see, next year, folks from Texas, from Kansas, from other places, being able to go to Oklahoma, shop in those dispensaries, bring more dollars and more jobs to Oklahoma. And particularly in this post-COVID era where state budgets are getting severely constrained, jobs and particularly in the service industry have taken a massive hit, I think the state is going to benefit significantly from expanding out its medical marijuana program.”