Unified plan

The governor signed into law the first major piece of medical marijuana legislation this session.

click to enlarge Unified plan
Alexa Ace
House Bill 2612 was passed by both houses of the Oklahoma Legislature and signed by the governor.

The first piece of medical marijuana legislation is now law.

House Bill 2612, also known as the “unity bill,” was authored by Rep. Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, and Sen. Greg McCortney, R-Ada. It cleared the state House of Representatives on Feb. 28 with 93 voting yes and five opposed and then passed the Oklahoma Senate with a 43-5 vote March 11. Gov. Kevin Stitt signed the bill Thursday afternoon.

The bill outlines an expansive array of powers and authorities relegated to Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) under the Oklahoma State Department of Health, including appropriating monies, establishing guidelines for inspections, packaging and labeling requirements and product testing.

The bill — 55 pages in length — is comprised of 24 sections. The first and second sections define terms used therein.

Sections 3-5
OMMA codification and functions

Sections 3 and 4 codify OMMA and its functions. Section 5 creates the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority Revolving Fund, which will receive all the fees, fines and taxes collected.

Section 6
Monitoring and disciplinary actions

Section 6 addresses monitoring and disciplinary actions relating to the medical marijuana program and states that inspections of medical marijuana businesses shall be limited to twice a year. If violations are found, additional inspections might occur without notice if it’s believed that evidence will be destroyed. This section also states that alleged criminal activity will be referred to state and local law enforcement.

“Disciplinary actions may include revocation, suspension or denial of an application, license, or final authorization and other action deemed appropriate by the department,” the bill states.

Disciplinary actions might be imposed for failure to comply; falsifications; impeding a monitoring visit; failure to submit or disclose required information; diversion of medical marijuana and its products; a failure to pay monetary penalties; threatening or harming a patient, medical practitioner, or a health department employee; or “any other basis as identified by the Department.”

The initial fine for selling medical marijuana to anyone not allowed by law to possess it is $1,000. Subsequent violations are punishable by a $5,000 fine, and businesses might have their licenses revoked if the violation was shown to be willful or grossly negligent.

Section 7
Patient and caregiver registry

Section 7 creates a registry for patients and caregivers that complies with state and federal laws, including HIPAA. The registry will be accessible by licensed dispensaries, but all other records maintained by OMMA are deemed confidential. No personally identifiable information shall be stored, according to the bill, and a log will be kept of any event in which the records were made available and to whom.

Section 8
Patient rights

Section 8 prohibits municipal and county governments from restricting or interfering with the rights of a licensed patient or caregiver to possess, purchase, cultivate or transport marijuana within the legal limits.

“Nothing in this act … shall prohibit a residential or commercial property or business owner from prohibiting the consumption of medical marijuana or medical marijuana product by smoke or vaporization on the premises, within the structures of the premises or within 10 feet of the entryway to the premises,” the bill states.

Patients will not be denied by landlords the right to consume medical marijuana products in forms that don’t involve smoking or vaping, and patients and caregivers will not be denied eligibility in public assistance programs like Medicaid, SNAP or WIC unless required by federal law.

A medical marijuana patient or caregiver will not be denied the right to own, purchase or possess a firearm or ammunition solely on their status.

Employers will not be allowed to refuse to hire, discipline, discharge or penalize an employee based solely on their status as a patient or caregiver, unless the employee consumes or is under the influence of medical marijuana while on the job or is involved in “safety-sensitive job duties.” Those jobs include but are not limited to: commercial drivers, heavy machinery and power tool operators, machine repairmen, utility workers, law enforcement officers and armed security officers, firefighters, those involved directly with patient or child care and those involved with the transport, processing, storage or disposal of hazardous waste and flammable or combustible materials.

The section also sets the same restrictions for smoking or vaping medical marijuana as tobacco under state statutes.

Sections 9-12
Physician and caregiver regulations   

Section 9 allows OMMA to contact the recommending physician of a medical marijuana patient applicant to verify the need for the license and also sets a reduced application fee for veterans of $20.

Section 10 states that only licensed Oklahoma allopathic and osteopathic physicians may provide medical marijuana recommendations; no physicians will be subject to arrest, prosecution or penalty for issuing recommendations; and a physician may revoke a patient license. The physician also cannot have a physical address as a dispensary.

Sections 11 and 12 authorize caregivers to be in possession of the sum of the possession limits of the number of patients under their care but are limited in cultivation for no more than five patients. Medical marijuana may only be grown on owned property or with the landlord’s permission and may not be accessible to the public or visible from an adjacent street.

Section 13
Purchase and tracking regulations

Section 13 states that all medical marijuana must be purchased in the state and grants OMMA oversight and auditing authority to ensure that is being followed. It also requires each marijuana business to keep records of transactions with other businesses, patients and caregivers.

A seed-to-sale inventory tracking system will require records of when seeds are planted, harvested or destroyed and when marijuana is transported, sold, stolen, diverted or lost. A “complete inventory of all marijuana, seeds, plant tissue, clones, plants, usable marijuana or trim, leaves and other plant matter, batches of extract and marijuana concentrates” will also be required in addition to records of samples sent to testing laboratories and sales samples.

Businesses will be required to keep the names, addresses and phone numbers of the growers, manufacturers or sellers of marijuana and its products as well as the date, batch number and dollar amount spent, among other records.

Section 14
Business applications   

Section 14 outlines the types of business licenses required and their costs. Additionally, 75 percent of all management or ownership must have resided in Oklahoma for at least two years immediately preceding the application or for five continuous years in the past 25 years. All business applicants will also be required to register with Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control (OBN), and cannot have a nonviolent felony conviction in the last two years or any other felony within five years. Applications may only be rejected for not meeting the requirements or for being incomplete. All licensed businesses must be in compliance with the Oklahoma and international building codes, and the International Fire Code unless granted an exemption by OMMA or a municipality.

Sections 15-17
State Department of Health
Transporter licensure
Testing licensure

Section 15 is one sentence. It reads, “The State Department of Health is hereby authorized to develop policies and procedures for disclosure by a medical marijuana business of financial interest and ownership.”

Section 16 outlines the requirements for a standalone transporter license, which is valid for one year. The transporter must conform to all seed-to-sale tracking requirements as well as have a vehicle equipped with GPS. Transported marijuana must be in a locked, labeled container.

Section 17 sets up licensing for medical marijuana testing laboratories. It prohibits lab owners from being a “direct beneficial owner or an indirect beneficial owner” of a dispensary, grower or processor. A medical laboratory director must be on-site during operational hours. Laboratories can accept samples from licensed patients. Labs will be required to keep test results for at least two years. Samples will be tested for microbials, mycotoxins, residual solvents, pesticides, THC and other cannabinoid potency, terpenoid potency and heavy metals.

Sections 18-24
Packaging requirements
Research and education requirements
Advertising restrictions

Section 18 sets packaging requirements for medical marijuana, including childproofing and “shall not depict images other than the business name logo of the medical marijuana producer and image of the product.” Cartoon characters or similar images that appear to target people under age 21 are prohibited. Packaging will also require a universal symbol indicating that the product contains THC and the THC and other cannabinoid potency.

Section 19 and 20 outline the requirements for a medical marijuana research and educational facilities.

Section 21 prohibits deceptive, misleading or false advertising as well as advertising or signage that specifically targets those under 18, including cartoon characters and similar images.

Section 22 establishes that all patient information, including financial details, and dispensary records with patient information is confidential and exempt from the Oklahoma Open Records Act.

Section 23 outlines authorities that can implement provisions of the legislation, and Section 24 is a set of amended definitions.

View the bill at oklegislature.gov.

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