Cannabis boom: Why Oklahoma is a ‘wild wild west’
Why is Oklahoma – one of the ‘reddest’ states in the US – a “wild wild west” for the cannabis business in the US?
And what does that mean for cannabis entrepreneurs like Jayne and Vic Grissom?
What concerns have been raised about the lack of regulations in Oklahoma’s cannabis industry?
As the use of cannabis becomes increasingly accepted across the United States, Oklahoma has emerged as a particularly interesting case. Dubbed the “wild wild west” of cannabis, the state has seen a rapid rise in the number of licensed medical marijuana dispensaries, and a corresponding surge in revenue.
The story of Oklahoma’s cannabis boom began in 2018, when the state voted to legalize medical marijuana. Since then, the number of licensed dispensaries has soared, with over 2,200 now in operation. This is more than the number of Starbucks or McDonald’s outlets in the state, and makes Oklahoma the state with the highest number of dispensaries per capita in the country.
The reason for the explosion in dispensaries is due to the relatively easy process for obtaining a license. Unlike other states, Oklahoma does not have a list of qualifying conditions, meaning that doctors have broad discretion over who they can prescribe medical marijuana to. This has made cannabis available to a wide range of patients, from those suffering from cancer to those with chronic pain.
The lenient regulations around dispensaries have also fueled the boom. While other states impose strict zoning and distance requirements for dispensaries, Oklahoma has no such rules. This has meant that dispensaries have popped up in strip malls, next to churches, and even in residential neighborhoods.
The result of this liberalization has been a significant economic impact. In 2020, the state collected over $73 million in medical marijuana taxes, and dispensaries have generated over $800 million in revenue.
However, the growth of the cannabis industry in Oklahoma has not been without its challenges. The lack of regulation has led to concerns about product quality and testing, as well as the potential for underage consumption. Some communities have also pushed back against the opening of dispensaries, citing concerns about crime and disorderly conduct.
Despite these concerns, many in the state see the cannabis boom as a boon for businesses and patients alike. With more dispensaries per capita than anywhere else in the country, Oklahoma’s cannabis industry is showing no signs of slowing down.
As other states continue to legalize and regulate cannabis, Oklahoma’s “wild wild west” approach may prove to be an outlier. However, for now, the state’s unique approach has made it a hub for cannabis entrepreneurs and patients alike.