House Bill 2272 sailed through the Oklahoma House of Representatives with a surprisingly wide margin of support.
The Oklahoma Cap on Medical Marijuana Businesses Act of 2021 is an assault against the bedrock principles of a free market economy. It would limit the number of commercial licenses available to what the state auditor and inspector described as the state’s fastest growing cottage industry.
That limit would be based on something as arbitrary as the number of active licenses at the time the cap takes effect. The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority reports there are about 10,000 active commercial licenses now, but that would be pared down to about 8,000 if HB 2272 becomes law —an outcome state senators should block.
The bill, authored by state Rep. Josh West, R-Grove, would accomplish the reduction by imposing “active use” requirements on those who possess commercial licenses. Dispensaries and processors would be required to prove gross revenue totaling $5,000 each month to maintain a license, and growers would have to maintain a minimum of 50 plants every month.
West said the bill is needed to combat “a thriving black market industry” that co-exists with Oklahoma’s “thriving medical marijuana industry.” While the black market may pose problems — and there is some agreement among the camps on that front — capping the number of commercial licenses offers no solution.
The black market exists because there is a lack of regulatory enforcement. OMMA and others with regulatory oversight responsibilities must carry those out effectively and evenhandedly.
West’s bill is neither effective nor evenhanded — it would put smaller operations at a disadvantage to those that have backers with deep pockets. It likely would draw legal challenges because it violates the spirit of State Question 788, which was based on free market principles.
We hope state senators see the wisdom of sending this bill to trash bin.