In early September, a new law took effect requiring all Oklahoma cannabis dispensaries to obtain a certificate of compliance before renewing or acquiring their license. The transition has been bumpy as city and county agencies are overwhelmed by the number of new inspection requests.
All licensed cannabis dispensaries must pass all zoning, fire, safety, plumbing and construction codes prior to renewing their license with the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority. Additionally, that have to start reporting all track-and-trace data for inventory and sales.
The OMMA Interim Director Travis Kirkpatrick explained that, “It’s basically a document that’s produced by that municipality or county that shows that business is in compliance with all ordinances in that city or county.”
Unfortunately, this has caused several delays in licenses being issued which leaves Oklahoma cannabis dispensaries waiting on the sidelines. Part of the problem is that initially the OMMA provided little guidance as to how they wanted the cities to implement this new policy. Many Oklahoma cities and counties were forced to institute their own ordinances and build infrastructure to support this process.
Owner of Prairie Haze Farms Kim Dansereau pointed out that, “Everybody’s been very nice, but there isn’t a list of what has to be done. I’m still in the process of going through compliance.”
Zoning has specifically caused complications for some Oklahoma cannabis dispensaries. Over 100 medical marijuana businesses in Oklahoma City acquired their initial licenses at addresses that were incorrectly zoned.
The zoning manager for Oklahoma City, J.J. Chambless, noted that, “We applied the zoning we have to medical marijuana as we would any other legitimate business. We didn’t do anything special for it, we just treated it like any other business.”
Medical Marijuana dispensaries are only allowed to establish a retailer in a commercial or industrial zoning district. Oklahoma cannabis dispensaries are subject to distance restrictions and cannot be within 1,000 feet of schools, or child care facilities. This has forced some medical marijuana retailers to change locations.
Some dispensaries who were early license recipients are now in the renewal process and finding it difficult to navigate all the local red tape in getting their certificate of compliance. There are a few things Oklahoma cannabis dispensaries can do to avoid any further delays.
• Sign-up early for the city’s inspection list
• Engage city officials about the specific business requirements
• Stay updated on what’s required as dispensaries in small towns might be the first to apply for a certificate of compliance.
Kirkpatrick admitted that, “The realities are sometimes people can be waiting weeks. Through no fault of their own we’re not able to consider their license. Effectively we are able to give them the balance of 120 days allowed by law. If we can be helpful, we will.”