The Oklahoma Legislature passed a bill that will prevent local municipalities from prohibiting medical cannabis dispensaries. The bill has been sent to Governor Kevin Stitt for his signature. The state’s medical marijuana industry is booming as the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority has received over 5,400 business applications. The state has over 1,400 dispensaries, which produced sales that topped $18 million in April.
The new law is in line with the business friendly environment in Oklahoma for medical marijuana businesses where there are fewer restrictions, low fees and tax rates as compared to the coastal markets. Under the new law, local municipalities may not prohibit retail medical marijuana businesses. A municipality may determine the appropriate zoning area for the businesses, but a retail businesses must be allowed. As we have seen in other states, local municipalities utilize buffer zones and zoning areas to cap the total number of marijuana businesses within the local jurisdiction.
Oklahoma’s approach limits the municipal risk that exists in other states that allow local jurisdictions to opt out. Cities that opt into commercial cannabis can opt out based on the change of the city’s administration, which results in litigation and lost investments.
Last week, Mountain View, California banned retail shops after the election of a new mayor. The prior administration approved an ordinance that allowed three dispensaries within the city. Applicants that worked with the city during the 18 month period to establish marijuana storefronts will be able to reapply for delivery licenses.