State cannabis industry causing a ‘seismic shift’ with jobs, revenue, licenses | News

ENID, Okla. — Oklahoma’s medical marijuana industry continues to develop as employees go away different industries for the booming cannabis enterprise.

In Garfield County, there are 29 dispensaries, 65 develop operations and 14 processors, whereas close by Kay County has 38 develop operations, 135 grows and 15 processors, in response to the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority.

However, Oklahoma counties east of I-35 have many extra licensed services than the western a part of the state, with Tulsa County holding 772 complete operations.

In an October Rotary assembly in Enid, Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Leslie Osborn mentioned the medical marijuana industry has prompted a “seismic shift” within the office.

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Kassidy Thresher weighs product at Natural Remedies Friday, November 19, 2021. (Billy Hefton / Enid News & Eagle)

Osborn cited three attainable causes affecting some industries’ skills to search out employees: low minimal wage, issue discovering little one care in some components of Oklahoma and the medical marijuana industry.

State Question 788 legalized medical marijuana in Oklahoma in 2018. Once it bought rolling two years later, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and Osborn mentioned a whole lot of hundreds of individuals are actually working within the medical marijuana industry.

“Where did they come from? Probably our service industry,” Osborn mentioned. “People went to (the medical marijuana industry) because they can make more than seven-something an hour. The average starting wage at dispensaries, grow houses and facilities … is somewhere between $12 and $15.”

The dimension of the group the MMJ facility is in does have an effect on the wage charges by a few {dollars}, however in Enid, the wage price of corporate-owned retail and restaurant companies is similar to dispensary pay charges.

Two Enid medical marijuana dispensaries pay $10 per hour, whereas different Enid dispensaries declined to reveal pay price.

By comparability, native space service and retail companies’ beginning wages vary from $9 to $13 per hour, with most beginning at $10. The median wage in Oklahoma for meals prep and serving was $9.80 in May, in response to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Enid companies weigh in

Brandy Ratzlaff, supervisor at Natural Remedies MMJ, mentioned all of their workers got here from the retail and repair industries.

Employees from Natural Remedies and Mother Joy’s Dispensary, who beforehand labored within the service industries, emphasised the relaxed however difficult atmosphere.

“Lately, the dispensaries in town have been trying to build unity and camaraderie,” mentioned Kimberly Kelly, worker at Mother Joy’s. “We have the best people. They are so polite, it’s a very relaxed environment. I love it. It is home for me.”

Natural Remedies shift chief Paige Chance, who has labored in different dispensaries and in retail, mentioned she sees every kind of individuals from totally different backgrounds.

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Merchandise sits on cabinets at Natural Remedies Friday, November 19, 2021. (Billy Hefton / Enid News & Eagle)

“I hear a lot of stories from different people and why they come in and smoke weed, why they medicate the way they do, what cannabis has helped them get off of — like medications they have been able to stop taking after they started using cannabis,” Chance mentioned.

With related pay and advantages, Chance mentioned the dispensary is much like a lot of jobs she has had, however she known as it a extra upbeat atmosphere in comparison with a lot of retail jobs.

“Everybody wants to be a part of it, or they know somebody that is affected by it,” she mentioned.

While a dispensary job appears enjoyable and funky, Chance mentioned, it’s difficult in a manner that different jobs aren’t as a result of legal guidelines are all the time altering and so they all the time have to ensure laws are being adopted.

Stakeholders elevate considerations

Beyond dispensaries and develop operations, OMMA requires licenses for processors, schooling services, waste disposal, laboratories and analysis services all in conjunction with cannabis.

Since medical marijuana was legalized in 2018, greater than $11 million has been generated in Oklahoma industrial license charges, in response to the OMMA. In Fiscal Year 2020-2021 (which started Oct. 1, 2020, and ended Sept. 31, 2021) complete MMJ income was reported at $36,664,315 for industrial licenses.

According to the state, 2020 Oklahoma medical marijuana tax income was reported $71,593,772. As of October 2021, tax income sits at $70,293,265 (reporting will finish in December). These experiences put Oklahoma on monitor to outpace 2020’s revenues.

Not solely are brick-and-mortar companies within the industry rising however so are farmland gross sales.

Enough so, that considerations had been raised in August about cannabis develop operations by a number of agricultural teams, together with the Oklahoma Agricultural Aviation Association, Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, Oklahoma Dairy Producers Association and Oklahoma Soybean Association.

The Oklahoma Sheriffs’ Association additionally joined in signing the letter, which known as on OMMA management to undertake a momentary moratorium issuing permits to new grows within the state.

The variety of cannabis grows permitted by Sept. 3 — 8,630 statewide — had exceeded the variety of Oklahoma wheat farms (6,510), pork farms (1,906), soybean farms (1,750), cotton farms (808) and dairy farms (471), in response to the letter.

“The numbers are simply overwhelming,” Kelsey mentioned in a assertion. “In the upcoming legislative session, OCA policy calls for reasonable and practical proposals to modify state law regarding growing marijuana. In the meantime, a temporary pause in grower permits, would be appropriate and rational.”

In a September 2021 response to these teams, the brand new head of the OMMA addressed these worries and considerations.

“It is a matter of public health and patient safety to ensure every business licensed by OMMA, including grows, is fully inspected,” OMMA Executive Director Adria Berry mentioned. “It is true that rural Oklahoma has seen an unprecedented uptick in the purchase and lease of land for cannabis farming, as pointed out by the signatories to the letter.”

Berry mentioned the OMMA doesn’t have the authority to situation a moratorium on grower licenses, however added the group could be working with legislators for a answer.

This story is the primary a part of a sequence concerning the rising medical marijuana industry in Northwest Oklahoma and the remainder of the state.

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