Starting a Cannabis Business in Oklahoma City
Since legalizing medical marijuana in 2018, the state of Oklahoma has become ground zero of the national green rush. Those who are hoping to start a cannabis business in Oklahoma City (OKC) have a much simpler (although still regulated) process to go through than in other states. The state touts some of the country’s most open and lenient policies and holds a national record, with nearly 10% of residents now carrying a medical marijuana card. Just around the corner is the 2022 house vote on House Bill 1961, legalizing recreational marijuana and stoking the fire of an industry that’s already burning hot.
Couple this ease of access with an unlimited number of commercial OKC cannabis business licenses available at some of the lowest rates in the country, and it’s no wonder people are beginning to refer to the state as Toke-lahoma.
Although THC is the cannabinoid receiving most of the attention, another member of the family has emerged with comparative popularity. Cannabidiol, or CBD, has been legal for over-the-counter purchases in Oklahoma since 2015 without any need for a medical license. With the national green rush gaining momentum, CBD has received massive attention for its medical benefits, which led to over 21,000 acres of industrial hemp licenses in 2019 throughout Oklahoma.
This rise in popularity has created incredible opportunities for savvy entrepreneurs to start cannabis businesses, especially in OKC. Let’s take a look at how to start a cannabis business in Oklahoma.
Step 1: Prepare For Launch
The first thing you’re going to want to do when opening a cannabis business in Oklahoma City is to develop your business plan and form your company.
You must be at least 25 years of age and pass a background check to apply as an individual or as a business entity. Oklahoma laws dictate that any cannabis business must have at least a 75% ownership stake controlled by state residents. Meaning an individual applicant must be a state resident, and 75% of the leadership of a business entity, such as an LLC, will need to be Oklahoma residents.
Finally, you’ll need to consider your location wisely. State laws will not allow any cannabis business to operate within 1,000 feet of a school, and the facility can not have a sleeping area due to health and safety concerns.
For a complete description of Oklahoma laws and rules related to opening a CBD business, click here.
Step 2: Understand the Correct Licenses and Permits for Your Business
When considering licensing and permits, the first thing you need to understand is that two different organizations in Oklahoma handle marijuana and hemp.
The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) is the association established to oversee the state medical marijuana program. In contrast, the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture oversees hemp (and, by default, CBD) through the Oklahoma Industrial Hemp Program.
Medical Marijuana Businesses
Oklahoma has two separate licensing options for cannabis businesses. A growers license is intended for those who are producing the cannabis and cultivating it while dispensary licenses are for those who want to sell cannabis products to medical marijuana patients.
Growers, processors and dispensary owners all need to ensure that they are appropriately licensed before starting to offer their services. Each license application will have different requirements and will need to include all necessary information. Unlike in other states, Oklahoma does not have a license lottery. Licensing is open to all applicants who meet the requirements and provide the proper information.
Hemp and CBD Businesses
Depending on your business model, there are two different licenses available for application.
The first license is for hemp growers, defined as a person or persons who have a direct or indirect financial interest in an entity producing hemp, such as an owner or a partner in a partnership.
The second license is for hemp processors and handlers. Handling is defined as possessing or storing industrial hemp for any period of time on premises owned, operated, or controlled by a person licensed to cultivate or process industrial hemp. Processing is defined as converting industrial hemp into a marketable form, including the production of all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers.
Depending on the business you plan to open, you may need to apply for one or both of these licenses. It’s also possible that you’ll need a food handling permit if you’ll be selling any food product infused with CBD. In contrast, a hemp license may not be required for a business adding derivatives of hemp, including hemp-derived CBD, to cosmetics, personal care products, and products.
Be sure to check with your local authority to ensure that you’re applying for all the necessary permits based on your business plan and refer to the official rules and laws to avoid complications.
Step 3: Submit Your Application
You’re prepared to launch, and you’ve identified the permits and licenses you’ll need to bring your business plan to fruition. Now it’s time to submit your application.
It’s important to note; you will need to submit an individual application for each location you plan to open.
Once your applications are complete and submitted, processing takes around 90 days, and in some cases, it’s much faster. Here are some links to get started on your application:
- Cannabis Dispensary License
- Cannabis Growing License
- Hemp Growing
- Hemp Processing/Handling
- Food Handlers (required for some cannabis businesses)
Step 5: Keep Records, File Reports, and Earn Your Profits
Assuming your application has been approved and you’re now open for business, the last, yet continual, order of business is to ensure that you’re keeping all of the necessary records and filing all required reports.
Each harvest will need to be reported at least thirty days before the harvest date. Inspection and testing audits can occur at any time, and records of up to three years prior must be available for official review. And any product that needs to be destroyed must be done through the proper procedures, which can require the involvement of certified officials.
Again, be sure to refer to the official laws and rules and confirm your understanding of every requirement.
So there you have it. Follow the rules and maintain industry best practices, and you should have a very profitable OKC cannabis business in no time.
If you’re considering starting a cannabis business in OKC or any part of Oklahoma, consider attending the Lucky Leaf Expo in Oklahoma City this September!