The Oklahoma medical marijuana market – one of the most free-wheeling in the nation – has been shedding businesses left and right for months. Insiders expect even further consolidation in the coming months. though the state has already fallen from about 14,000 cannabis companies to just over 10,000.
Voters shot down a recreational marijuana legalization ballot measure in March, and the state – and some in the industry itself – has been trying to push bad actors out of the trade, Politico reported. There’s been an ongoing crackdown by multiple state agencies, including the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority but also the state Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.
That’s resulted in thousands of licensed companies exiting the industry, with “hundreds more businesses – and perhaps thousands” expected to follow, the outlet found, in part because business license renewals now will have to include valid certificates of occupancy to prove their legitimacy. That’s a hurdle that many aren’t expected to be able to meet, sources told Politico.
Currently, Oklahoma’s regulatory agency said the state has:
- 5,549 licensed medical marijuana growers
- 2,634 dispensaries
- 1,609 medical cannabis processors
- 127 transporter licensees
The contraction could be a lifeline to those left standing, some industry insiders said. Statewide regulated sales reached $148.5 million in September, according to the Medical Marijuana Authority.
“A lot of people just can’t pay their bills,” Jeff Henderson, co-founder of craft cultivator PYRE, told Politico. “Some people have no margin whatsoever. There’s not a lot of money to go around.”
Another longtime cannabis advocate, Chris Moe, predicted an 80% attrition rate in coming months.
“The priority is crackdown. The priority is shrink the industry,” Moe told Politico. “Who wants this? Everybody. The only people who don’t want the industry shrunk are those who know they’re going to lose everything.”