Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) has signed bills to increase penalties for medical cannabis diversion and make the state Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) a standalone agency. The diversion bill is meant to close a loophole that allows medical cannabis cardholders to buy state-legal products but re-sell them to individuals without a card and only face an administrative fine, Hemp Gazette reports. The measure signed by Stitt closes that loophole.
Fines for those who intentionally or improperly divert medical cannabis are doubled on first and second offenses under the new law, and a third strike could lead to the revocation of a patient’s medical cannabis card. Fines for sales or transfers of medical cannabis products to unauthorized persons have also been increased to $5,000 for the first violation and $15,000 for subsequent violations.
State Sen. Lonnie Paxton (R) has previously stated that the measure is not meant to target “college friends who are sharing marijuana product with no money exchanged” but rather “the black-market medical marijuana industry and drug dealers.”
The bill making the Medical Marijuana Authority a standalone agency takes effect November 1 and the measure takes the agency from under the umbrella of the Health Department. OMMA will still oversee the issuance of medical cannabis patient and business licenses and carry out all functions related to the regulation and compliance enforcement of the Oklahoma medical cannabis industry, the agency said in a press release.
House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols (R), the bill’s author in the lower chamber, said making OMMA a standalone agency “is necessary to deal with the complexity of regulation and compliance of the expanding medical marijuana industry.”
“This will help us cut down on the black market that threatens the wellbeing of Oklahomans,” he said in a statement, “and properly regulate the legitimate businesses approved by voters.”
After November 1, the governor will appoint OMMA’s executive director, and the state Senate will be responsible for the appointee’s confirmation.
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