Updated on August 11, 2020.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Oklahoma was the state with the most stringent marijuana laws in the past. Today it is one of the fastest-growing medical-cannabis states.. Oklahoma boasts a very expansive medical marijuana program now, and has been dubbed “The Wild West” of medical marijuana.
Oklahoma is the most accommodating state in the country. In 2020, the medical marijuana industry in Oklahoma has achieved record breaking sales (over $70 million in one month). Many industry experts have ranked Oklahoma’s marijuana laws as the future of MMJ programs in the U.S. There are ample physicians to provide recommendations, and dispensaries throughout the state of Oklahoma.
Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Basics
The U.S. government still federally bans marijuana. This is because marijuana is still ranked under Schedule 1 drug at the federal level. This ranking means that it is defined as lacking in any medical benefits. Many states have independently generated medical marijuana programs. And the Federal government has left legalization and running of MMJ programs to individual states to determine.
MMJ Not Available For Everyone
Medical marijuana is not available to everyone. Even in the states with recreational-marijuana programs, only a few people can access cannabis products. States where medical marijuana is legalized passed Compassionate Care or Compassionate Use legislation. The laws acknowledged that terminal patients, and individuals who were suffering painful symptoms needed help. When pharmaceutical drugs were not effective for them.
Medical marijuana programs are highly controlled. Each patient is recommended after a health evaluation, and cannabis use is doctor-supervised. All the states have health conditions that could qualify individuals for the program. Although the lists vary, all of them feature serious diseases and disorders or health conditions that may be managed effectively by the use of cannabis. Improving the comfort and quality of life for patients.
Patients with qualifying conditions have to get a recommendation from a licensed physician. This is a different prescription because of cannabis’ federal status. Both adults and supervised minors (with registered caregivers) can apply for medical marijuana cards. This is only after a doctor’s recommendation. The recommendation grants them access to specially licensed dispensaries.
Medical marijuana dispensaries differ from recreational dispensaries. They operate like pharmacies in the way that they manage products and patients. At a medical dispensary, a patient profile of health diagnoses is established. This allows for custom recommendations on cannabis products that might help improve symptom management.
The Significant Difference With Oklahoma
In certain ways, Oklahoma’s medical marijuana program operated in similar ways to the other states. But, there is one major difference. There is a lack of qualifying conditions for patients.
Oklahoma Medical Marijuana’s Room To Grow
The prohibition activists are, of course, concerned. They believe that Oklahoma’s Marijuana program creates opportunities for abuse. Particularly because there are so many licensed medical dispensaries in the state. However, there is no data to suggest that more medical dispensaries increases the rate of illegal recreational use. Or an increase in substance abuse by non-cardholders.
Oklahomans also have easy access to recreational dispensaries across Colorado when they need them. Likewise, patients from Arkansas can also get a 30-day permit for medical marijuana (if they qualify). However, it is illegal for temporary cardholders to drive back to Arkansas with medical marijuana they purchased in Oklahoma.
The reciprocal agreement between Arkansas and Oklahoma is worth watching. It has helped Arkansas patients (as dispensaries have been slow to open in the state). It is expected in the next 1-2 years that many other states will announce reciprocal agreements using Oklahoma’s successful plan with Arkansas as a model.
There is no doubt that Oklahoma’s medical-marijuana program is growing rapidly. For cannabis industry entrepreneurs interested in capitalizing on a ready market, Oklahoma is the state to go. State regulators are still offering licenses for medical dispensaries. Oklahoma may be the nation’s leader with a licensing model that removes barriers to business entry for cultivators and retail cannabis dispensaries.