TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) — There are a plethora of Oklahoma bills looking to regulate the medical marijuana industry, but that could all change very soon.
Rep. Justin Humphrey proposed a bill that would use the technology that cryptocurrency is based on to create a banking system for dispensaries to use with the state. It has now passed in the House.
“Little money invested and lots of money in return,” said Humphrey. “And that’s always smart. We’re losing about 70% of business to the illegal industry.”
Oklahoma’s medical marijuana business has boomed far faster than many originally thought, but the systems in place around them haven’t grown as fast.
With marijuana not federally legal, many dispensaries have to operate as cash-only businesses.
“It's really hard to find banks that want to work with dispensaries,” said Jerrod Ganem, purchasing manager at Whole Leaf Dispensary. “So just that in itself, having to say, bring in said cash and run all of those transactions, you've got a big stack of cash, where do you take it?”
Whole Leaf is one of the few with a digital ATM, allowing customers to use a debit card.
“For us, our ATM is extremely vital in the store,” said Ganem. “I’d say it accounts for 30% of all transactions here. And then the rest, we do a lot of cash."
The technology doesn’t stop there. Technology Committee Chairman Rep. Logan Phillips says it could revolutionize all facets of how the state does business.
“This has implications across the board," he said. "From land record management to health benefit management to DOC management, this has technology in it that can update all of those systems.”
Now if this were to make it to the governor's desk and get signed into law, Oklahoma would be the first state to utilize this technology like this.
Phillips says other states could then use Oklahoma to run transactions through.
“This is not a crypto coin like people have traditionally thought," he said. "Where you go in and mine some digital currency that fluctuates. You know, it could be worth $1 today and $80,000 tomorrow. This is all backed by the U.S. dollar. So, a dollar is worth a dollar today, the dollar will be worth a dollar tomorrow. The Oklahoma digital ledger technology will be worth a dollar today. It will be worth a dollar tomorrow.”