Oklahoma Cannabis Facts

Updated on May 6, 2020.  Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer

Oklahoma is one of the more liberal states for access to medical marijuana. One in 13 adult Oklahomans has a patient card. With no qualifying medical conditions required, many patients find it easy to get approval, with many consultations happening via telemedicine. 

Other states with medical marijuana typically require qualifying conditions. Oklahoma leaves the decision solely to the doctor. The rules require they follow “accepted standards a reasonable and prudent physician would follow when recommending any medication to a patient.” The doctor recommendation form contains a section for doctors to list medical conditions and diagnostic codes, but it’s optional.

Sales of medical marijuana are at record volume, as marijuana dispensaries logged enough sales to spike tax collections by more than 25% during the coronavirus pandemic. This happened after Gov. Kevin Stitt issued his “Safer at Home” directive that shuttered many nonessential businesses and sent Oklahomans home from work. Stitt included marijuana dispensaries as an essential industry, however, allowing them to remain open.

State Question 788

Here are a few facts about State Question 788:

  • During the June 2018 state election, 507,582 (56.86%) of voters voted “yes” for SQ 788, while 385,176 (43.14%) voted “no.”
  • When voters approved of SQ 788, Oklahoma became the 30th state in the U.S. to legalize medical marijuana.
  • Oklahomans for Cannabis, formerly known as Oklahomans for Health, organized the SQ 788 initiative.
  • The SQ 788 website features an annotated version of the document that explains the logic behind each section.
  • Contrary to many states’ medical cannabis laws, SQ 788 proposed a program without qualifying conditions. It instead leaves the decision up to the recommending physician. They simply have to use the same standards they would for pharmaceutical medicine.

Criminalization and Discrimination

The laws related to criminalization and discrimination can be a bit confusing in medically legal states. In Oklahoma, the following is true:

  • Anyone who has a felony charge in recent years cannot apply to sell, grow, produce or research medical marijuana — this policy came from SQ 788 itself. According to the annotated version, Oklahomans for Cannabis included this section so the legislature would not impose harsher regulations.
  • Unfortunately, someone convicted with marijuana sale, distribution or cultivation charges can receive life in jail. Even small amounts can have this punishment. All sales and distribution penalties also count as felonies. Due to SQ 788’s limitations, nonviolent felony offenders can’t participate in the medical marijuana industry for two years. Meanwhile, incarcerated people can’t get a commercial license at all.
  • While Oklahoma has a 7.6 percent population of black people, 6 percent of marijuana arrests involve a black person. This disproportionate ratio makes them more vulnerable to cannabis-related felony charges and incarceration.
  • Arrests related to marijuana possession spiked in Oklahoma in 2016. The Oklahoma Policy Institute speculates that this trend could have to do with that year’s ballot initiatives. SQ 780 and SQ 781 would reclassify certain drug crimes and calculate the resulting budget savings.

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