How Oklahoma Became the New "Wild West of Weed"
The amount of cannabis growing in the Sooner State might surprise you.
The Sooner State, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain and the wavin' wheat sure smells sweet, has a new moniker: Cannabis Capitol.
Although the mostly rural state is one of the most conservative politically, it has become a hotbed for marijuana growers. An unlikely "bastion of bud," thanks to its extreme war-on-drugs stance — it still imprisons a higher percentage of its population than any other state other than Louisiana, according to the Denver Post — this green rush is partly due to more relaxed laws on growing weed.
Oklahoma, a state that banned weed in 1933, voted to legalize medical marijuana in 2018. In addition to no limit on how many dispensaries the state can handle, there are also no caps on how many plants you can grow. Cities and counties aren't allowed to outlaw dispensaries or grow operations. And it's one of the easiest places to get into the business, thanks to practically miniscule licensing fees.
Get your medical marijuana cards, here
It's easy on both sides of the counter, too. Patients don't need qualifying medical conditions to get a card, and doctors regularly set up shop outside of dispensaries, so you can get a card easily within 15 minutes. The result: The Sooner State has the most medical marijuana patients per capita in the nation.
Taking all of this into account, plus an abundance of affordable land, Oklahoma now has seven times more growers than neighboring states, including the first to legalize recreational weed, Colorado. And Coloradans are one of the larger populations cashing in, both with legal — tt's estimated that there are almost 9,000 legal growers in the state — and illegal grows.
"Other states grow patches," marijuana carmer Chip Baker told the Denver Post. "In Oklahoma, we grow fields."
Land of outlaws...and weed
The downside, which has happened in just about every state where growing cannabis is legal, are the illegal farm sites, which are becoming more and more abundant around the state. While Oklahoma has always harbored a sense of pride for its history of rail robbers and horse thieves, the lack of regulation is pissing off local and state law enforcement who say there's another drug bust just about every week. And now there's a threat of "contaminated weed."
Still, it's not discouraging the growth of the industry or encouraging the government on tightening regulations. Cannabis isn't going anywhere — Oklahomans are into it.
"Turns out rednecks love to smoke weed," Baker told Politico last year. "That's the thing about cannabis: It really bridges socio-economic gaps. The only other thing that does it is handguns. All types of people are into firearms. All types of people are into cannabis."