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State of Oklahoma sees boom in number of marijuana dispensaries, processors, growers

Medical marijuana greenhouse. (KOKH)
Medical marijuana greenhouse. (KOKH)
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Despite being one of the least populated states to allow medical marijuana, Oklahoma leads the way in licensed dispensaries.

More than 2,300 of them, that's more than the number of gas stations across the state.

The booming business is growing so quickly it's difficult for law enforcement to keep up with illegal growers and sellers.

"I feel sorry for a guy trying to obey the law and doing things right and he's taking a financial kicking as opposed to the clandestine guy who will sell it out the back door and out of state to try and do everything he can to make a dirty dollar," said Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton.

The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority is the agency tasked with policing these operations across the state.

The state has continued to increase the number of compliance inspectors.

"When our inspectors are out in the field at these businesses, they're making sure they're operating up to regulatory standards legally with patient safety in mind," said OMMA Spokesperson Porsha Riley.

OMMA currently has 87 inspectors on staff with a budget for 100.

The state legislature instituted a two-year license pause to help the Medical marijuana Authority catch up.

"It's going to affect that growth, it's going to slow that growth, and it's going to affect those process times we'll be able to focus on those renewals once those pre-moratorium applications are processes," Riley said.

For Sheriff Walton, he believes it needs to be a local and statewide partnership and that currently, the enforcement isn't deterring people from operating illegally.

"And really has no fear that law enforcement is going to come and shut him down or any large penalty is coming his way," Walton said. "The only thing we can do right now is to manage that and make sure the growers are compliant."

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Marijuana is Oklahoma's fastest-growing industry and its enforcement of it is growing rapidly as well.


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