One month into office, the newest director of the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority said the agency is undergoing a “hard reset” to catch up on compliance checks and ensure product safety.
“We can’t change where we came from, but we can definitely change where we’re going. So, from this point on, it is a hard reset,” said Adria Berry, the fourth person to lead the agency.
The industry has ballooned in Oklahoma since State Question 788 legalized medical marijuana in the state in 2018. There are 8,857 licensed growers and 2,415 dispensaries, according to OMMA.
Bolstering the number of compliance inspectors is a priority for the agency, Berry said. As of early September, OMMA has inspected fewer than 40% of licensed businesses.
“We absolutely do not have enough compliance inspectors on staff to keep up with the growth of the license numbers we’ve seen,” Berry said. “We’ve had a 25% increase in industry license applications in the last year.”
The agency plans to hire 40 additional inspectors to assist with the backlog of compliance checks, an increase from the current team of about two dozen.
Agricultural groups plan to advocate for more restrictions on new businesses including higher license fees for marijuana growers to quell the rapid growth in rural Oklahoma.
OMMA Deputy Director Barrett Brown said he does not necessarily want to make it harder for new marijuana businesses to get started.
“We are a very business-friendly state, always have been, and will continue to be,” Brown said. “What we do want to ensure is that those businesses who do start are doing it the right way and are following the right regulations, and that’s what we’re staffing up to ensure.”