Carl’s Capitol Comments: Interim studies
The House is in the process of holding numerous interim studies on a variety of issues that could result in legislation in our next session.
One of the study’s I co-hosted recently focused on agriculture concerns arising from the growth of the medical marijuana industry in our state.
This industry is growing at such a fast rate, we’ve honestly had trouble keeping pace with regulation and inspection. We were told during our study there are an average of 100 new growers per week springing up in various areas of the state.
In 2019, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) was able to inspect just 10% of the dispensaries, growers and licensees in the state. That percentage rose to 40 last year, and the goal is 100% this year.
The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs also has taken on the role of assisting with inspections to ensure growers are operating legally. Legislation we passed this year will allow the OMMA in partnership with OBNDD to hire new inspectors and agents.
We are aware of the problems in this industry, brought about because of its quick growth and the limited amount of regulation written into the state question that made the product legal for consumption, production and sale in our state.
I’m excited that Adria Berry has been named the new director of OMMA. I believe she will do a good job of leading the authority and getting a handle on this burgeoning industry.
One of the issues we’ve encountered is that of pesticide drift from farmers spraying their crops. Being next to medical marijuana fields, they are now facing liability claims from cannabis growers claiming the drift is affecting their product. We heard from several in our study who addressed this issue.
Kenny Naylor, director of Consumer Protection Services at the Oklahoma Dept. of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, detailed the pesticide complaint process. The Grain and Feed Association had the Farmers Cooperative General Manager Lakin Dreiling to give us a firsthand look at what dangers and concerns are facing our farmers and local grain cooperatives around the state.
We also discussed the strain cannabis grow operations are having on rural electric and water systems as well some of the major electric providers throughout the state, among many other topics.
The bottom line is Oklahomans voted to legalize medical marijuana, and that sparked this new industry. It’s now up to us to regulate it in a way that protects public safety and our other agriculture producers. This study was a great starting point. We’ll examine other issues in future studies and draft additional legislation as needed.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. Thank you for allowing me to serve you at the State Capitol. You may reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone me at 405-557-7339. May God Bless you and the State of Oklahoma.