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Oklahoma’s Medical Cannabis Market is Booming, but Some Dispensaries Need Guidance

by Sarah Cawthon January 13, 2021

Oklahoma has seen incredible success with the state’s medical cannabis program. Medical cannabis sales and patient numbers have continued to increase at a staggering rate, indicating the market still has room to grow.

The program, which launched in October 2018, has generated nearly $10 million a month in state tax revenue with retail sales expected to exceed $800 million in 2020 compared to $345 million in 2019.

The coronavirus pandemic helped drive sales, especially early in the pandemic when patients began to stock up. Medical cannabis businesses were deemed essential, which allowed dispensaries to provide curbside pick-up services to patients and helped drive sales even more.

In April, state cannabis sales hit a monthly record of $61 million, which many attributed to 4/20 sales. However, in May, sales hit $73 million. Through June, medical cannabis sales had exceeded $385 million according to the Oklahoma Tax Commission, surpassing 2019 sales.

As of December 7, 2020, the state had registered 365,464 active patient licenses – roughly 10 percent of the population – and needs operational and compliant dispensaries to service those patients.

The state has licensed thousands of cannabis businesses, but only 1,996 dispensaries are open and operational to serve the high patient population as of December 7. According to Sarah Lee Gossett Parrish, an Oklahoma City cannabis attorney, about 30 to 40 percent of cannabis business license holders are not operational.

Oklahoma’s program makes the process of applying for and obtaining a cannabis business license fairly simple. However, this means that entrepreneurs who enter the industry are often ill-prepared for the obstacles that await them when opening and operating a compliant cannabis business. Oklahoma’s laissez-faire attitude has resulted in many license holders sitting on or forfeiting their licenses and has left patients without a selection of solid dispensaries.

Additionally, soon after the program launched, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) recognized that more detailed regulations were needed to guide businesses to success, including security, testing, and inventory control measures. In October 2020, the OMMA published new emergency rules to address these issues. However, many existing businesses are having difficulties with reassessing their business to become compliant with the new regulations.

If you need assistance with operating a cannabis dispensary in Oklahoma – whether you’re a current license holder or planning to apply for one – contact our Unity Rd. team to learn how you can receive help from an industry veteran. The Unity Rd. franchise opportunity offers a deep network of seasoned experts, trusted resources, turnkey blueprint and ongoing support to confidently operate dispensaries that are compliant and profitable.

As Oklahoma’s program continues to grow, the state is ripe with opportunities for entrepreneurs interested in opening a dispensary.