Cantrell said the delays and uncertainty when the system might go live means it’s a guessing game for many dispensary owners. The Peak had to buy enough tags and get on the Metrc platform to account for all its inventory at the original deadline at the end of April. Then that got pushed to the end of June, although the next court hearing is June 29.
A greenhouse full of marijuana plants is seen at Apothecary Extracts in Beggs. The owners also have an operation in Colorado. Both operations use tags with barcodes to track the plants from seed to consumer sales. (Whitney Bryen/Oklahoma Watch)
To make up for some of the costs of the Metrc system, Bein said lawmakers should direct the Oklahoma Tax Commission to provide tax credits or deductions to allow medical marijuana businesses to write off their compliance costs. Because marijuana is a controlled substance at the federal level, many deductions or credits available to other industries aren’t available to cannabis businesses under federal tax law. Limited banking options also force many businesses into cash-only operations.
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At a special meeting last week for emergency rules, Williams said the authority has a goal of inspecting all licensed businesses this year. So far, about 40% of businesses have had an inspection. The authority has a contract with health department food inspectors to perform some of those inspections.
Paul Monies has been a reporter with Oklahoma Watch since 2017. He covers state agencies and public health. Call or text him at (571) 319-3289 or email [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @pmonies.
“We need better understanding, and we need better communication,” he said. “I know that OMMA is actively working on improving that, and they’re getting better, but it’s still not good. Something like this has real-world impacts on us and hard financial costs.”
Metrc wasn’t named in the original lawsuit. The company successfully argued in a June 1 hearing that it should be allowed into the lawsuit as a party because the temporary restraining order interfered with its state contract. The next hearing is scheduled for June 29 in Okmulgee County.
Cantrell said a lack of communication, from both the medical marijuana authority and Metrc, has meant a lot of confusion among many in the industry. He is also board president of the Oklahoma Cannabis Industry Association.
Nearly 376,000 Oklahomans — roughly 10% of the state’s population — have medical marijuana cards, by far the highest share in the country, according to the Marijuana Policy Project.
Moon partnered with Rich Cardinal, a Colorado cannabis lifer, to set up a grow operation called Canna Culture on a family-owned piece of property in Chickasha, a small town 45 minutes southwest of Oklahoma City.
Leaving Colorado for greener pastures
Baker would know. From the time he planted his first marijuana plant at 13, he’s been all about growing weed. A dream formed in the Georgia fields took him to Humboldt County, California — the nation’s earliest pot epicenter — then Colorado, the country’s first recreational market.
Cities and counties in Oklahoma, meanwhile, aren’t allowed to outlaw dispensaries or grow operations — another major break from states like Colorado, where despite legalization, the drug is still barred from being sold recreationally in many local jurisdictions.
“We’re not going to tolerate it”
On a recent, oppressively hot Oklahoma summer day, workers drenched in sweat installed rope lines to keep the plants upright. Nearby, Baker and his team strategized about the best ways to keep irritating caterpillars off the marijuana leaves, discussing plans to expand even further on the seemingly endless property.