Cannabis Is Booming in Oklahoma. Is Texas Next?
Why everyone should be watching The Sooner State.
Texas' Compassionate Use Program remains one of the most restrictive in the U.S. Through the program, the Department of Public Safety operates a secure online registry of qualified physicians who can prescribe low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to patients with specific medical conditions.
The Compassionate Use Registry of Texas (CURT), is designed to prevent more than one qualified physician from registering as the prescriber for a single patient, and is accessible to law enforcement agencies and dispensing organizations to verify patients of low-THC cannabis.
Meanwhile, across state lines in Oklahoma, where voters legalized medical marijuana in 2018, is experiencing a weed-industry boom, reported NBC News.
The medical cannabis market in The Sooner State generated about $150 million in 2021 revenue.
Why Texas should look to Oklahoma
In Texas, only three companies are authorized to supply cannabis for the state's medical program. However, in Oklahoma, state officials have licensed some 12,000 marijuana-related businesses, and about 1 in 10 people has medical marijuana cards.
Oklahoma's Republican Governor Kevin Stitt pointed to the relatively low cost of obtaining a cannabis business license, noting that without a cap on marijuana operators, the market has expanded at an unsustainable rate.
"Oklahoma charges just $2,500 for a commercial license," Stitt said, noting that California charges far more, in fact up to 72 times more. "As a result, we have seven times the growers in California with just 10 percent of the people.
Next door in Arkansas, they have eight growers. We have 8,300," the governor said. "You know as well as I do that not all of that product is being sold legally. This is a perfect example of why we need to make sure initiative petitions represent Oklahomans and not out-of-state special interest groups," added the Governor.
Good for small business
Morgan Fox, political director of NORML, said the system rightly favors small businesses.
"This is a system that is set up to basically create opportunities for small businesses," Fox said. "There's a lot of room for people to start up businesses without a tremendous amount of capital."
Paulie Wood, a former California grower and the CEO of Kannabiz Monkeeyz told NBC that he decided to close his West Coast operations because of the "insane over-taxation" and headed for Oklahoma.
"In Oklahoma, you can literally start a grow for under $10,000, whereas in California you're going to be out hundreds of thousands of dollars to just getting started," Wood added. "They call it the wild west of cannabis. It's the nicest, friendliest state we could ever want to be in."
Oklahoma grower Josh Blevins told NBC that he and other growers regularly serve Texas customers who make the drive to purchase legal cannabis.