Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority Lawsuit Filed Against the Marijuana Regulatory Agency
Oklahoma legalized marijuana three years ago. Since then, the cannabis industry has raked in billions of dollars every year, but it has brought challenges as well, especially between business owners and the regulators of the marijuana industry in the state.
Recently, an Oklahoma medical marijuana authority lawsuit was filed against the marijuana regulatory agency by Ronald Durbin, an attorney who represents cannabis businesses in the state.
Complaint Focus 2019: The Seed-to-Sale System
KOSU, a member-supported public radio network operating in central Oklahoma, reported that the Oklahoma lawsuit focused on the state’s up-and-coming seed-to-sale tracking system and the vendor that was chosen to design it.
What is seed-to-sale tracking?
Seed-to-sale tracking is exactly as the name implies.
Cannabis plants are tracked from seeds through all these processes:
- testing, and
After that, they are sold in a licensed marijuana dispensary.
How does seed-to-sale tracking work?
- Labels or tags with identifying barcodes or QR codes are placed on the containers containing the seeds.
- When a commercial cannabis grower uses clones instead of seeds, a tag may be hung on the plant itself as the plant matures. This step is mandated in some states.
- For those growing marijuana indoors, tracking can be required, like in many states, when the cannabis plant is moved from room to room during the growth cycle.
- Tracking can be done with the use of mobile scanning or reading devices, which are done by manufacturing facilities and employees in the field.
- Each cannabis plant is followed through the entire supply chain through the label or tag with the barcode or QR code.
- The same code is placed on the cannabis product (vape, oil, tincture, edible, topical, etc.) which was manufactured with the cannabis plant. This is to ensure that the tracking chain remains unbroken.
Why is seed-to-sale tracking important?
Seed-to-sale tracking is beneficial to all the major players in the cannabis industry—the consumers, the professionals (manufacturers, farmers, and businessmen), and the cannabis regulators.
- Consumers depend on the seed-to-sale tracking system for their health, wellness, and confidence in the use of cannabis. The tracking system protects them from contaminated cannabis products.
- Cannabis professionals use the system to help them comply with industry standards and the state laws for cannabis. Through the tracking system, they are also able to obtain optimal data, so they can improve on their cultivation practices and techniques to increase their profit.
- Cannabis regulators use the system to monitor every cannabis product at each stage of the supply chain through the final sale. It will likewise help them eradicate illicit cannabis sales and off-the-book sales.
The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority Metrc
The Oklahoma medical marijuana authority lawsuit included a complaint that the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority awarded the seed-to-sale tracking system contract, worth about $15 million in fees to Metrc.
The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority was established to oversee the medical marijuana program for the State of Oklahoma.
Operating under the Oklahoma State Department of Health, they are responsible for licensing, regulating, and administering the program as authorized by state law.
Their primary goal is “to ensure safe and responsible practices for the people of Oklahoma”.
Metrc is a private company that provides seed-to-sale tracking services in states that have legalized marijuana. They provide a system to track all medical marijuana and medical marijuana products being grown, processed, transported, tested, and sold in the state.
Their mission is “to ensure patient access to safe medical marijuana and medical marijuana products”.
Durbin said cannabis professionals in Oklahoma were not against the seed-to-sale tracking system because many cannabis businesses have already contracted their own.
However, they argue that the version of OMMA’s contract with Metrc is more costly to the cannabis businesses in Oklahoma.
Another issue raised was that OMMA granted the contract to a single vendor that was not from Oklahoma.
New Complaint 2021: Violation of Oklahoma’s Open Meeting Act
The Oklahoma lawsuit claims that the parties listed (OMMA Director Williams, her secretary, and a lot of the new members of the board of health and the food safety standard board) violated Oklahoma’s Open Meeting Act.
What is Oklahoma’s Open Meeting Act?
Oklahoma’s Open Meeting Act requires all public bodies to file an advance notice of regularly scheduled and special meetings with the Secretary of State.
The Act requires that agendas for regular and special meetings must be posted in a publicly accessible location for at least 24 hours prior to the meeting, and agendas must identify all items of business of the meeting.
Fox 25 reported that Durbin and Rachel Bussett, co-counsel on the case, stated that OMMA did not post any agenda about approving some cannabis regulations and sending them off to the governor as emergency cannabis industry regulations.
No one in the cannabis community knew about the meeting or the agenda of the meeting. Nobody was aware of what was going on and, Bussett added, “They didn’t give the people who were making the decisions on the rules the time to really read and understand the rules that were being made.”
A dispensary owner complained about OMMA’s passing out 100 pages of new rules without notice to the industry and without public comment.
What the Oklahoma Lawsuit Seeks
According to the Cannabis Business Times, the Oklahoma lawsuit seeks to separate OMMA from the Oklahoma State Department of Health and place it under the control of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics.
In defense of OMMA’s alleged violation of the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act, they released a statement through Fox25 on behalf of OMMA and OSDH stating their primary goal and that they “continue to follow rules regarding public meetings and the opportunity for public comment”.
Impact of the Oklahoma Lawsuit
The message of almost 100 medical cannabis patients and medical cannabis owners to OMMA is to improve transparency. They want regulations on the cannabis industry to be done properly, appropriately, and transparently.
The Oklahoma medical marijuana authority lawsuit is teaching OMMA a lesson.
Making regulations transparent would increase their trust and confidence in how the state is ensuring safe and responsible practices in licensing, regulating, and administering medical marijuana.