Oklahoma lawmakers are taking aim at a state law that penalizes medical cannabis diversion with an administrative fine with legislation that would increase the penalty for such offenses.
The bill, which cleared the House last month, would increase the penalties for registered patients who purchase medical cannabis and then sell it to non-cardholders, the news outlet reported.
The legislation would up the fine for individuals who divert medical cannabis from $200 to $400 for the first offense and from $500 to $1,000 for the second offense, according to KFOR.
“As many Oklahomans know, when State Question 788 was passed to legalize medical marijuana, we were quickly thrown into a situation where we needed to create the framework and guidelines for this industry,” Sen. Lonnie Paxton, R-Tuttle, one of the bill’s sponsors, told the news outlet. “Unfortunately, this led to the inadvertent mixing of medical marijuana legislation and criminal justice reform legislation, resulting in the ability for someone to buy marijuana product legally, but then re-sell it to a child or someone who doesn’t have their card, with only an administrative fine. Ultimately, this is drug dealing, but only with the equivalent offense of a traffic ticket. S.B. 1367 fixes this loophole and makes this practice a criminal offense.”
Paxton added that the legislation targets the illicit market rather than individuals who share cannabis products with no money exchanged.
“These black-market dealers are targeting and selling marijuana to our kids and others who don’t have a medical card, and we are giving our law enforcement officials the ability to do their jobs and prosecute these offenders under criminal violation of the law,” she told KFOR.
Oklahoma lawmakers unveiled a plan in March to clean up the state’s medical cannabis program and combat the illicit market.
The majority of that 12-point plan is directed at eliminating “bad actors” in the state, ensuring patient safety and protecting Oklahoma farmers from liability, as Cannabis Business Times previously reported.