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Oklahoma Lawmakers Pass Bill To Increase Penalties For Selling Medical Cannabis to Non-Cardholders

Oklahoma lawmakers have passed a bill which would increase penalties for people who sell medical cannabis to those without cards.

After the measure had previously been approved in the Oklahoma House, it was finally passed by the Oklahoma state Senate.

“As many Oklahomans know, when State Question 788 was passed to legalize medical marijuana, we were quickly thrown into a situation where we needed to create the framework and guidelines for this industry,” said GOP state Sen. Lonnie Paxton, who authored the legislation. “Unfortunately, this led to the inadvertent mixing of medical marijuana legislation and criminal justice reform legislation, resulting in the ability for someone to buy marijuana product legally, but then re-sell it to a child or someone who doesn’t have their card, with only an administrative fine. This amounts to drug dealing. But it is not the same as getting a ticket for traffic violations. SB 1367 fixes this loophole and makes this practice a criminal offense.”

According to a release from the Oklahoma state Senate on Monday, the “measure increases the fine for a person who intentionally or improperly diverts medical marijuana from $200 to $400 on the first offense, and from $500 to $1,000 on the second offense.’ Should someone get busted for a third time, “they could lose their medical marijuana license,” according to the release, which said that the bill “also increases the fines for sales or transfers of medical marijuana to unauthorized persons to $5,000 for the first violation and $15,000 for subsequent violations.”

“I want to be very clear that we are going after the black-market medical marijuana industry and drug dealers with this bill—not college friends who are sharing marijuana product with no money exchanged,” Paxton said in a statement. “These black-market dealers are targeting and selling marijuana to our kids and others who don’t have a medical card, and we are giving our law enforcement officials the ability to do their jobs and prosecute these offenders under criminal violation of the law.”

This bill is now headed to Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt. The new law, if it is signed by him, would be effective November 1.

Oklahoma’s voters passed an initiative on the ballot legalizing cannabis for medical use in 2018.

In the Sooner State, regulators approved earlier this year details for a new tracking method that was mandated in 2019 by lawmakers.

The Oklahoman reported earlier this year that the implementation “of the tracking system is seen as a major step toward curbing the illegal cultivation and sale of marijuana in Oklahoma,” with officials in the state saying that “it would improve the effectiveness and speed of any future recall efforts, while allowing law enforcement to detect unusual patterns that may indicate the product is being diverted to the black market.”

In Oklahoma, medical marijuana dispensaries had to adhere to the regulations within 90 days of receiving approval by regulators in February.

“It’s going to help us with that chain of custody of every single product in the state,” Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority Director Adria Berry said at the time, 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.”

Advocates for marijuana hope to capitalize on Oklahoma’s success with its medical cannabis program. An activist group announced in January that they would be running a campaign for legalization of recreational marijuana.