Medical cannabis businesses in Oklahoma have about three months to get in line with the state’s “seed-to-sale” tracking system after a lawsuit that had delayed its implementation finally reached a settlement late last week.
The Oklahoman reported that attorneys who had filed a lawsuit regarding the constitutionality of the system said Friday that they “had reached an agreement with the state, clearing the way for the state to move forward.”
Oklahoma lawmakers approved the tracking system in 2019, a year after voters in the state passed an initiative at the ballot to legalize medical cannabis.
Implementation of the system, which was designed to ensure that production of medical cannabis was in compliance with the state’s law, was postponed last spring after a group of medical cannabis businesses challenged it in court.
The dispensaries contended that they should not be subject to fees and other financial obligations associated with the tracking system and METRC LLC, the company with which the state contracted to implement the system.
Ron Durbin, an attorney for a cannabis business that brought the lawsuit, also called out the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) for its implementation of the program, which he said came as a result of “backdoor rulemaking.”
“I’m arguing those are not the way you adopt regulations, and the regulations don’t require any of this,” Durbin said in June. “If that’s the case, we’re back to where I said we should be, which is: Go adopt some lawfully appropriate regulations to implement your seed-to-sale tracking program. OMMA has way over complicated this. Quite frankly, they dropped the ball and didn’t do their job in getting regulations done.”
Now with an agreement struck between the plaintiffs and the state, the tracking system is set to launch in 90 days, according to The Oklahoman.
“It’s going to help us with that chain of custody of every single product in the state,” said Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority Director Adria Berry, as quoted by The Oklahoman. “If there is a product that is not in the seed-to-sale tracking system, then it is not legal—and we will be able to discover that quickly.”
According to The Oklahoman, Durbin “said he and the state’s attorney agreed this week to compromise on most of the issues raised in the lawsuit,” and that under the order signed by the judge, “all medical marijuana licensees have 90 days to become compliant with the tracking system.”
The agreement represents a major breakthrough for the Sooner State’s medical cannabis program. It also comes at a time when activists in Oklahoma are looking to take the next step in cannabis reform and bring more access to the state.
Voters in the state could see two different recreational pot proposals on the ballot in November, with the latest petition drive launched at the start of the year.
That campaign centers around a proposed initiative to “impose a 15 percent excise tax on recreational cannabis sales and includes a criminal justice element that would make the new law apply retroactively, which would allow some drug offenders to have their convictions reversed and records expunged,” The Oklahoman reported at the time.
In October, a group called Oklahomans for Responsible Cannabis Action filed its own petition for a ballot proposal to legalize recreational pot for adults 21 and older.
“A lot of this is stuff that has been advocated for by a lot of folks in the community and industry over the last three years, and I don’t see it’s going to make it through the legislative process any time soon,” Jed Green, an organizer of the group, said last year.