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Oklahoma lawmakers take aim at unlicensed cannabis grows.
After a huge cannabis bust in January — the biggest in the state’s history — lawmakers have introduced and advanced legislation in the form of a 12-point plan to combat the sprawling illicit market.
That bust caught our eye because it yielded 100,000 plants and thousands of pounds of processed cannabis. The estimated unregulated market value: $500 million.
At the start, Oklahoma lawmakers took a free market approach to their medical cannabis program. Now, they’re seeking to rein it in.
“Illegal marijuana grows end now. The black market isn’t a free market,” said House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols said in a statement. “This comprehensive plan aggressively attacks the spread of illegal marijuana operations statewide, as the people of Oklahoma have demanded.”
The 12-point plan will require, according to the House Republican Caucus:
“• Making the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority a standalone agency
• A grant program for county sheriff’s departments to fund law enforcement efforts in every county (HB 3530)
• Full implementation of a seed to sale system (either via court order or new legislation)
• Provisional licensing requiring pre-license inspections and increased document submission prior to approval (HB 3734)
• Tiered grow license fees based on grow size (HB 2179)
• Separate licensing for medical marijuana wholesalers (HB 3634)
• All medical marijuana businesses to post standardized permit signage at the place of business (HB 2025)
• Stringent electrical and water data reporting by marijuana growers (HB 4055)
• Annual inspections (HB 2024)
• Product packaging standards and maximum beyond use dates (HB 3019; HB 4288)
• Standardized laboratory testing and equipment (HB 4056)
• Marijuana grows to register as environmentally sensitive crop owners with the Agriculture Department (HB 3827)”
ABA poll shows support for cannabis banking.
During its 2022 Washington Summit this week, the American Bankers Association released findings from a consumer survey, and it included sentiments on cannabis banking.
It found that 65% of those polled “support allowing cannabis businesses to access banking services such as checking accounts and business loans in states where cannabis is legal,” and 67% “support Congress passing legislation that allows cannabis businesses to” do those things.
“Consumers clearly agree that now is the time to resolve the ongoing conflict between state and federal law so banks can serve legal cannabis and cannabis-related businesses,” said Rob Nichols, ABA president and CEO, in the announcement.
“Doing so will help banks meet the needs of their communities while enhancing public safety, increasing the efficiency of tax collections and improving the financial transparency of the cannabis industry.”
Colorado DOT, AAA remain concerned about cannabis-impaired driving.
Last week, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), the Colorado Department of Public Safety (CDPS) and AAA held a news conference to highlight impaired driving trends that “may help explain the increase in traffic deaths” in the state since 2019.
The group referenced a Colorado Division of Criminal Justice report published in January that analyzed more than 26,000 impaired driving cases in Colorado in 2019. The report found that almost half (45%) of these drivers tested positive for more than one substance, most often both THC and alcohol.
Mixing substances has become a growing concern when it comes to cannabis impairment, because while the scope of impairment, and accurate testing, remain unclear, what is known is that poly use increases intoxicating effects.
“Colorado’s increase in traffic fatalities can be attributed to numerous causes, but impaired driving is a big one. And when we see increases in impairment involving multiple substances, we have to address them immediately,” said CDOT’s Office of Transportation Safety Director Darrell Lingk.