TULSA, okla. – With marijuana fully legalized in New Jersey, many in Oklahoma are wondering whether the state’s medical industry will be recreational.
The Sooner State was home to most of the medical marijuana dispensaries in the country in less than three years. Business and government are making significant gains – nearly $ 1 billion in cannabis sales.
The prospect of becoming the 17th fully legal cannabis state attracts those in the bud business.
“Why don’t we stand in the middle of it?” Chip Paul, CEO of OK4U Approved, said.
Paul’s organization works with medical marijuana patients and caregivers in Oklahoma. He helped pen language in State Issue 788 – the measure passed by voters in 2018 to legalize marijuana for medical purposes.
After SQ788 passed, Rep. Scott Fetgatter (R) of Okmulgee, Okla., Took note. Paul calls Fetgatter his “Point Man” in the House of Representatives.
Fetgatter designed and launched two medical marijuana bills on the floor of the house last week, and both were approved.
Now he’s working on laws to legalize adult cannabis.
“At least a conversation begins,” said Fetgatter.
“Recovery is likely to happen,” said Rep. Stan May (R) of Broken Arrow, Okla. “I can’t see enough resistance to it. It can happen towards the end of the session.”
May told 2 Works for You that he has no problems with recreational marijuana, but he believes the current medical marijuana program in Oklahoma needs to take additional steps, such as accurately detecting THC in a person’s body before it turns to the adult to use.
According to the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, more than 370,000 Oklahomans hold patient licenses.
Fetgatter told 2 Works for You that he sees an opportunity to boost the $ 195 million the state has generated from medical cannabis sales in less than three years.
Total revenue increases to $ 1 billion in the first quarter of 2021.
“If we went to a Rec program, I could see it become a $ 2 billion or $ 3 billion industry,” said Fetgatter.
The legislation proposed by Fetgatter provides for a consumption tax of 15 percent plus state and local sales tax on the purchase of recreational cannabis. Medical sales remain at seven percent excise tax with the chance of a reduction.
Rep. Randy Randleman (R) from Eufala, Okla. Is a clinical doctor and child psychologist. He told 2 Works for You that medical marijuana reduces anxiety and ADHD symptoms in some of his clients, but fears that legalizing recreational activities could lead to cannabis abuse in children.
“If you tend to overuse it, it can be more damaging,” said Dr. Randleman.
Findings from a study by the Colorado Department of Public Safety show higher marijuana use among children and adolescents after the state fully legalized cannabis in 2012.
The report also shows that marijuana-related hospital stays have increased by nearly 60 percent.
“If we don’t get it right, I think it will explode in a way that will create more problems in the family,” said Dr. Randleman.
However, according to the report, perceptions of a “major health risk” from marijuana use are on the decline in the state of Rocky Mountain. Points of contention such as driving disorders from cannabis remain almost unchanged.
But the thought of a driver getting behind the wheel with THC in their system is enough to scare some off the road for leisure.
Fetgatter believes the pharmaceutical benefits and significant revenue streams are the driving force behind its cannabis caravan. He said health and safety concerns will be addressed in the final legislation.
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