OKLAHOMA CITY (March 21, 2023) – Attorney General Gentner Drummond praised state legislators today for approving a trio of measures aimed at addressing the rise of illegal marijuana grow operations in Oklahoma. The bills have passed their legislative chamber of origin and are now headed for the opposite chamber.
“Oklahoma’s illegal marijuana grow operations pose a serious threat to public safety, particularly in rural communities invaded by organized criminals from China and Mexico,” Drummond said. “As the state’s chief law enforcement officer, I am committed to working arm-in-arm with Oklahoma’s law enforcement agencies to deliver justice and restore peaceful order.”
The state has witnessed an explosion of marijuana grow operations in the aftermath of Oklahoma’s 2018 legalization of medical marijuana. While many marijuana grow businesses abide by the law, medical marijuana has been a Trojan horse for organized criminals whose illicit activities also include human trafficking, sex trafficking and distribution of deadly drugs like fentanyl. The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control estimates that nearly half of the state’s 6,299 marijuana grow operations are illegal.
The Attorney General noted that a number of other pending bills were drafted to assist law enforcement in this area.
“I am thankful the Legislature is working on many pieces of legislation to support law enforcement and protect public safety,” Drummond said.
The Attorney General pointed to the following bills as critical:
House Bill 2095 by Rep. Jon Echols and Sen. Lonnie Paxton
Gives the Attorney General investigative and enforcement authority over medical marijuana laws to support the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority and allows all enforcement agencies to work together; allows the Attorney General to conduct unannounced on-site inspections; upon reasonable suspicion, the Attorney General may subpoena documents to identify any ownership interest in the business; and extends the moratorium on grow licenses until Aug. 1, 2026.
Senate Bill 806 by Sen. Brent Howard and Rep. Jon Echols
Requires documented proof of land ownership of a licensed marijuana grow operation; requires an application to transfer a business license to include the same information required of new licensees; prohibits transfers when a licensee is under investigation; limits transfers to once per year; and prohibits multiple business licenses within the same category to be registered under one address or physical location.
Senate Bill 913 by Sen. Darcy Jech and Rep. Anthony Moore
Requires all marijuana grow businesses to hold a $50,000 bond that may be recalled if the property has been abandoned; the license has been revoked; or in response to a violation of law, regulation, or ordinance necessitating remedial action. The bond will be used to address any necessary restoration of the property, including removing equipment, destruction of waste, remediation of environmental hazards, prohibiting public access, addressing improper buildings, or determining the final disposition of any seized property.
“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,” Drummond said.