Red State OKs Pot and Boom, the Industry Is on Fire

Oklahoma, conservative? More like the 'wild west'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 22, 2018 6:15 PM CST
In this Nov. 30, 2018 photo, medical marijuana dispensary owner Chance Gilbert displays some of the marijuana he's grown at the Oklahoma Roots dispensary in the bedroom community of Shawnee, about 40...   (AP Photo/Sean Murphy)
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(Newser) – The rollout of statewide medical and recreational marijuana programs typically is a grindingly slow process that can take years. Not so in Oklahoma, which moved with lightning speed once voters approved medical cannabis in June, the AP reports. The ballot question received 57% support and established one of the nation's most liberal medical pot laws in one of the most conservative states. Six months later, the cannabis industry is booming. Farmers and entrepreneurs are racing to start commercial grow operations, and the state is issuing licenses to new patients, growers, and dispensary operators at a frantic pace. Retail outlets opened just four months after legalization.

By contrast, voters in North Dakota, Ohio, and neighboring Arkansas approved medical pot in 2016 but have yet to see sales begin amid legal wrangling and legislative meddling. "I think we really are the wild, wild West in many respects," says attorney Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish, whose firm in Norman represents several cannabis businesses. "Here in Oklahoma, we're a pretty independent constituency. We are primarily a red state, but we don't like a lot of government controls." Indeed, unlike virtually every other state, Oklahoma officials created no list of qualifying medical conditions for people to get medicinal marijuana. That has prompted a flood of applications for personal licenses to purchase pot. (See which state is likely next to legalize.)


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