“Everyone and their dog have some sort of marijuana license,” says Chip Paul, the advocate of libertarian legalization. “You just have a stupid amount of growth licenses and process licenses.”
The number of pharmacy licenses has already dropped significantly in recent months: there were more than 2,400 active licenses in May, but that number is now below 2,000 (although part of that decrease is due to changes in the state agency’s reporting of its license numbers ), and it’s almost certain to keep falling.
Danna Malone knows firsthand the challenges of creating a viable marijuana business in such a saturated market. She opened Ye Olde Apothecary Shoppe on October 1, 2018 in Tulsa. Her business is promoting that she fulfills the mission of the state medical program and offers products with high CBD and low THC Content – the latter is what gets people up – that is not very attractive to people who just want to be stoned.
“We have a lot of elderly patients, people who were initially afraid to park their car out here,” says Malone. “But now you feel good.”
Malone – a firearm owned by a woman who describes herself as “very conservative” and makes frequent references to packing heat – also works as a paralegal and was not surprised that the Oklahomans were strongly supportive of medical legalization.
“All of these people who are arrested have families and friends,” says Malone. “The cost of them is exponential because it’s a never-ending vicious cycle. Once you’ve received these fines, you can’t [pay] These fines go up and go up and go up. “
Malone laments the increasing presence of nongovernmental operators in the Oklahoma market and fears mom and pop stores like hers are unable to compete with their deep pockets. She is also concerned about the upcoming implementation of the Seed Sales Tracking System and complains that the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority has provided little information about it. In fact, Malone says she has absolutely no idea what to do to meet the requirements.
Kelly Williams, who was appointed OMMA’s interim director in August, says the seed-to-sale system is a long overdue tool for building accountability and transparency.
“This helps us see where the product is going and going much better. This is especially important when there are recalls or concerns about the safety of a product,” says Williams. “We can see this upstream and downstream almost instantly.”
In September, OMMA Metrc, which has similar tracking programs in 14 other states and Washington, DC, placed an order to implement the system. It is expected to be operational in the spring of next year. Williams says they will be in touch in the coming months to ensure business owners like Malone know exactly what to do to meet the requirements. “You will be specially trained and accepted into the Metrc system,” says Williams. “You will understand a lot better what that requires of you.”
But Malone is not comforted by this assurance. Even now, she says, it is becoming increasingly difficult to stay afloat financially in the highly competitive marijuana market. Although the cost of doing business in Oklahoma is significantly lower than almost any other state marijuana market, state and local fees are hindering business.
“We don’t make any money because there is such a money robbery,” complains Malone. “Everyone just wants a piece of the pie.”