How Recreational Cannabis Legalization Can Impact Oklahoma In 2023

cannabis legalization

A look at how cannabis legalization and anticipated changes will impact Oklahoma and the US Cannabis Market.

MAIN CHALLENGES OF THE US CANNABIS INDUSTRY IN 2022

Stigma, inadequate labeling, burdensome and expensive regulations, and lack of access to financial resources are the perennial challenges uniquely faced by the cannabis industry. Here’s a look at how these issues affected things last year and the changes to expect going into this year and beyond.

Poor Labeling And Consumer Knowledge

Going into 2023, poor labeling practices and a lack of consumer education are issues that need to be addressed as the cannabis industry evolves. Consumers need to know what they’re buying and what it contains, and businesses need to be transparent about their products.

Proper labeling also helps ensure quality control, regulatory compliance and prevents accidental consumption by minors, which helps out weed’s perception and fights against stigma.

Onerous Taxes, Regulations, and Competition from the Illegal Market

As anyone running a dispensary or marijuana farm will attest, the industry is heavily taxed and regulated across most of the 36 states in which it is legal. This makes the barriers to entry high and keeps the product expensive.

A more expensive product makes it difficult for businesses to compete with the illegal market and for consumers to access products affordably and legally. The illegal market, thriving despite cannabis legalization, can operate outside the regulatory framework and undercut the legal market price by as much as 20%.

Banking and Financial Limitations

Because marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, cultivators, dispensaries, and other businesses don’t have access to agriculture relief funds and business loans that other agricultural products are granted. Only having access to limited financial services makes it difficult for businesses to get off the ground or get financial aid during tough times.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2023

Things are shaking up this year in the cannabis industry. Here’s what to expect.

More US States Legalizing Recreational Cannabis

Nationally, the US is trending towards cannabis legalization, even in red states. In the coming years, we’ll surely see some new states where marijuana is legal.

Starting January 10th, 2023, Connecticut will allow sales of marijuana products to adults 21 and up. Maryland will similarly allow adult use starting on July 1. Missouri passed a vote in November 2022, and recreational sales should start sometime in March.

Four further states – Minnesota, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania – are expected to hold a cannabis legalization vote sometime this year.

New Laws and Regulations And Their Impact on The Cannabis Industry

With a new year comes new regulations – some stricter, some lighter. There are many laws across all the states where weed is legal, but there are some general trends you should know.

●      Delivery is on the rise: With COVID-19 introducing curbside pickup into modern vernacular, we’ll see more and more options for people to get their herb without entering a dispensary. Curbside pickup measures will be extended in most states, and the amount of product delivery services are permitted to carry will rise, so we’ll see a big boom in those businesses.

●      Stricter labeling: Hefty fines – up to $500,000 in Oregon – will be levied on producers if their products threaten public safety or the labels contain false or misleading information. Operators must also label product potency.

●      Sample Retention: Testing labs are required to keep samples for 30 days.

RECREATIONAL CANNABIS LEGALIZATION IN OKLAHOMA

If and when Oklahoma decides to legalize recreational pot (currently, it’s only legal for medical use, though regulations are comparatively light), the business landscape will change radically, as we’ve seen with other states. Here’s a look at what changes the state will see:

Tax Revenue

If recreational marijuana is legalized, the state will see additional tax revenue from a ballooning demand. When cannabis is more accessible to a broader range of people – everyone who may not have had a medical reason previously – the demand increases. This tax revenue can fund various public services and programs, including those that feed right back into the cannabis industry, such as agricultural subsidies or state loans to cannabis cultivators.

Creation of New Jobs and Businesses

With increased demand, more jobs will be created. Oklahoma’s massive cultivation industry will grow even further with its already-abundant resources and fertile land.

There will also be growth in manufacturing, retail (dispensaries), and distribution.

cannabis legalization

Photo by Erik Mclean

Reduce the Amount of Illegal Cannabis on the Market

Hopefully, cannabis legalization will grow the legal market at the expense of the illegal market, ensuring the weed people consume is safe, clean, and taxable. This will, in turn, reduce the number of drug dealers on the street and lower the income of various cartel groups who transport and thrive off illegally-imported cannabis.

While there have been several instances where cannabis legalization has proven ineffective at curbing the black market, (such as in the case of Oregon, where cartel-operated farms run rampant in rural communities), Oklahoma should prove to be a different beast thanks to its far lower licensing fees, taxes, and less-burdensome regulatory processes.

As always, following the Metrc Oklahoma guidelines regarding seed-to-sale tracking is necessary to ensure regulatory compliance.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The cannabis game in Oregon, much like the rest of the states, is changing big-time. New laws, new regulations, and new customers will demand new strategies for existing businesses and new cannabis businesses looking to get in on the blossoming industry.

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