Stitt signs last batch of bills combatting illegal marijuana operations
By John Dobberstein, Editor
Gov. Kevin Stitt signed the final pieces of legislation Friday that targets illegal marijuana grows that have proliferated in Oklahoma over the last 5 years.
Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond praised the legislation, as well as state lawmakers and Stitt for taking action.
“These measures are a much-needed tool to help law enforcement agencies combat the illegal marijuana operations across our state that are jeopardizing public safety and harming our communities,” Drummond said in a statement.
“Shutting down these illegal operations is my top priority. I am thankful our lawmakers have provided more support to law enforcement officials that, in turn, will help us better protect all Oklahomans.”
Oklahoma experienced a massive increase of marijuana farms since the legalization of medical marijuana in 2018
While many grow businesses abide by the law, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control (OBN) estimates that nearly half of the 6,299 grow operations in Oklahoma are illegal. The illegal grows are often operated by Mexican drug cartels and Chinese nationals whose illicit activities also include human trafficking, sex trafficking and the distribution of deadly drugs such as fentanyl.
Bills recently signed into law include:
SB 212 by Sen. David Bullard and Rep. Justin Humphrey: This bill prohibits foreign ownership of land except for businesses engaging in interstate commerce. It takes effect Nov. 1.
SB 475 by Sen. Lonnie Paxton and Rep. Jon Echols: This measure allows the OBN to suspend the controlled dangerous substances registration of any person without a hearing when it is determined there is imminent danger to public health or safety. It also allows a penalty to be assessed for non-compliance and allows the OBN to assist the Attorney General with any prosecution for violation of the Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Act. It takes effect today.
SB 813 by Sen. Jessica Garvin and Rep. T.J. Marti: This law authorizes the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority to operate a quality assurance laboratory to conducting compliance testing of medical marijuana. The effective date was June 1.
Bills signed into law earlier this year include:
HB 2281 by Rep. Echols and Sen. Paxton:
This measure defines a straw party and prohibits distributing any controlled dangerous substance on behalf of any person through a straw person/party. It was effective May 11.
HB 2095 by Rep. Echols and Sen. Paxton:
This legislation provides the Attorney General’s office, along with OBN and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, full enforcement authority over the medical marijuana laws of the state. It allows the Attorney General to subpoena business documents, conduct unannounced on-site inspections, seize and destroy illegal products and to enter memoranda of understanding with other law enforcement agencies to create a coordinated approach to eradicating illegal grow operations.
It extends the moratorium on new grow licenses through 2026 to allow law enforcement additional time to shut down illegal grows. It takes effect Nov. 1.
SB 913 by Sen. Darcy Jech and Rep. Anthony Moore: This bill requires all grow operations to hold a $50,000 bond except for those who have owned their land for five years. The bond may be recalled if the property has been abandoned, the license has been revoked or in response to a violation of law. The bond will be used to address any necessary remediation of the property. It took effect April 20.