Arguments in the case challenging a recently passed law that hikes medical cannabis licensing fees for businesses were heard by Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice John Kane on Tuesday, the Tulsa World reports. The plaintiffs claim the increases are unconstitutional because the law is a revenue-raising measure, but lawmakers did not follow the rules governing the passage of such measures.
The lawsuit, filed by Jed Green, founder of Oklahomans for Responsible Cannabis Action, and three companies against the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority on June 30, contends that “The Legislature’s hike in the fee structure represents an extraordinary leap in the amount of revenue that the State will collect through medical marijuana business licensing.”
Under the new law, annual fees are assessed through a tiered licensing program that ranges from the current $2,500 to more than $50,000.
William Flanagan, assistant solicitor general for Attorney General Gentner Drummond, on Tuesday asked the court not to take the case, arguing that the bill is not a revenue-raising measure but that the fees are going to a regulatory purpose and will hemp officials improve public safety and decrease the cannabis supply in the state, the report says. A Cannabis Public Policy Consulting study commissioned by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority published in June found Oklahoma cannabis growers produced 64 times more medical cannabis than the market demanded.
“The rapid expansion of the industry has provided opportunities for organized crime, and the boom has made it difficult for regulators to keep up,” the state said in its response to the lawsuit. “To address the oversupply of marijuana in the State, the Legislature enacted House Bill 2179 to raise some of Oklahoma’s uniquely low licensing fees to a level in line with that of other states.”
Stephen L. Cale, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said the matter is of constitutional and public concern and that the state Supreme Court should take the case because the bill has a statewide impact.
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