New Marijuana Authority Director Describes Agency “Hard Reset” Including More Inspections
After his first 30 days on the job, the new Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority chief said the agency was beefing up its staff to ensure compliance and help the state uncover illegal operations.
OMMA Executive Director Adria Berry said in a Friday briefing with reporters that after voters approved medical marijuana in 2018, the state only had 60 days to put in place a program and that it was difficult to keep pace with an industry that suddenly exploded as there were few statutory limits.
“We can’t change where we’re from, but we could definitely change where we’re going. So from this point on, it’s a hard reset. We’re going to change a lot of our procedures,” Berry mentioned.
OMMA is in the process of hiring 40 compliance officers, which the legislature approved after a 25% increase in license applications over the past year. Berry said businesses should expect an inspection next year.
“So the crops, the dispensaries, the processors – anyone with an OMMA business license will be inspected,” Berry said.
Berry said the push to do more inspections was part of an effort to ensure more consistency in regulations for businesses and in products for patients.
The agency is also adding six investigators who will help the state narcotics bureau investigate illegal marijuana businesses, and OMMA gets new enforcement power on November 1, such as the ability to give businesses cease-and-desist orders. and to abstain for violations rather than start administrative hearings.
Deputy Director Barret Brown has said he will meet with lawmakers on some issues, but does not see major legislative changes needed, although he recognizes that a cap on business licenses could be a topic.
“I think given the recent conversations on this topic that have lasted for at least a year or two, I wouldn’t be at all shocked if this topic were brought up, and it’s something we will take seriously and discuss with lawmakers and try to find a workable solution, ”Brown said.
Brown said OMMA doesn’t think it should be harder to start a medical marijuana business in Oklahoma, however.
“We’re a very business-friendly state, we’ve always been and will continue to be here. What we want to make sure is that companies that start up are doing it the right way and following the right regulations, and c ‘is what we “put in place to ensure,” said Brown.
The agency is in the process of assembling task forces to examine the issues that other state agencies are getting involved with in marijuana businesses. The use of water in rural areas was a particular concern raised during an interim legislative review.
OMMA is also in the process of updating its licensing software and is hiring a new Compliance Director to oversee the implementation of a seed-to-sale tracking system, but there is still no schedule for this due to an active trial.