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State legislators cracking down on illegal marijuana grows

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Oklahoma's Attorney General is applauding lawmakers’ work to crack down on illegal marijuana grow operations. Currently, there are three bills going through the legislature, one in the House and two in the Senate.

Since the state passed medical marijuana back in 2018, an explosion of dispensaries and grows have popped up everywhere. And while most are legitimate, here are still hundreds that slip through the cracks. And state legislators tell 2 News, these three bills are meant to stop those illegal operations.

AG Gentner Drummond, said medical marijuana has become a trojan horse for illegal activity ranging from sex and human trafficking and distribution of deadly drugs like fentanyl. The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control estimates nearly half of the grow operations are illegal. But for the legal operations, how will these bills affect production?

“For right now where we’re at, I think it’s necessary. There absolutely has to be a crackdown on oversaturation,” said marijuanna grower Josh Riddle.

Riddle works for a grow out of Oklahoma City. He said these bills could help bring the competitiveness back into the industry with legal grows.

“If I’ve got 25 thousand dollars in cost a month and you don’t because you’re backdooring or black marketing or you know, skirting the line where it looks like you’re doing the right thing but you’re not; it really, two things, it makes it an unfair playing field and it makes it hard to be competitive,” said Riddle.

Riddle said if you are doing the right thing, you shouldn’t be worried. But what exactly will these bills do for operations?

House Bill 2095 gives all enforcement agencies the power to conduct un-announced on-site inspections with reasonable suspicion. Senate Bill 806 requires proof of land ownership of a licensed grow operation and prohibits transfers and multiple licenses at one address. And Senate Bill 913 requires all operations to hold a 50 thousand bond that may be recalled if the property is abandoned, license revoked, or in response to a violation of the law.

Riddle said in this case, the government oversight is needed. And he said the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority needs to come up with better ways to not only regulate but enforce the laws. He said there will be growing pains but in the long run, Oklahomans are getting the medication they need at a decent price, there just needs to be more oversight.

The AG said of the bills, “I am especially grateful for the house and senate leadership as well as the individual legislators who have stepped up on behalf of public safety by authoring and voting for this legislation.”

The three bills are now headed for the opposite chamber and then Governor Stitt’s desk.

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