New Oklahoma law extends marijuana business license moratorium until 2026

By: - November 13, 2023 5:29 am

Medical marijuana is pictured at Herbal House dispensary in Norman. A new state law extends a moratorium on new cannabis businesses, including dispensaries. (Photo by Kyle Phillips/For Oklahoma Voice)

OKLAHOMA CITY — Lawmakers extended a moratorium on new medical marijuana business licenses for two more years as the state tries to get a handle on the exploding industry.

A new state law extends a two-year pause on granting new cannabis licenses for dispensaries, growers and processors into a four-year moratorium.

The pause does not affect the state’s 339,938 medical marijuana patients and other license holders.

The moratorium that was initially scheduled to end next summer will now end Aug. 1, 2026, due to a law that took effect Nov. 1.

Now more than a year into the moratorium, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority is starting to see a decrease in license numbers, said agency spokesperson Porsha Riley. But she said the decrease in the number of cannabis businesses can be attributed to numerous factors, including increased enforcement of the state’s medical marijuana laws and a more rigorous licensing process.

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The number of licensed growers across the state has dropped by nearly 2,000 businesses since the moratorium took effect, according to information provided by the Medical Marijuana Authority.

But the number of licensed dispensaries and processors increased because a deluge of new applicants requested licenses just before the moratorium took effect. Because the Medical Marijuana Authority had 90 days to process the applications, the number of licensed businesses partly grew despite the pause on licenses, Riley said.

When the moratorium took effect Aug. 26, 2022, Oklahoma had 7,285 licensed growers, 2,374 dispensaries and 1,464 processors. As of last week, the state had 5,390 licensed growers, 2,602 dispensaries and 1,575 processors, she said.

Owners of commercial marijuana businesses are still able to sell or transfer their license to another interested party.

A report the Medical Marijuana Authority commissioned last year found Oklahoma has 32 times more regulated marijuana than necessary to meet patient demand. Some business owners complain that Oklahoma’s industry is both oversaturated in the amount of available cannabis and the number of marijuana businesses, making it hard to turn a profit.

Oklahoma currently has 9,798 licensed cannabis businesses, down from 11,437 this time last year.

Oklahoma voters legalized medical marijuana in 2018, but earlier this year all 77 counties resoundingly rejected a state question that would have legalized recreational marijuana.



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Carmen Forman
Carmen Forman

Carmen covers state government, politics and health care from Oklahoma City. A Norman native, she previously worked in Arizona and Virginia before she began reporting on the Oklahoma Capitol.