Sep. 30—After a few years since medical marijuana was legalized in Oklahoma, business at local dispensaries has been consistent for both new and established locations.
At Primetime Buds, traffic has slowed down slightly, but there's been no dramatic change to the operation. Manager Blaine Mooney said many of the patients who visit Primetime also grow their own marijuana at home.
"It's harvest season right now," he said. "Everybody is getting their bud off their plants, so there's no need for them to come buy from us if they have their own."
Still, there's been plenty of new faces to show up at the dispensary as of late. Mooney contributed some of the influx of new patients to Northeastern State University's fall semester being in session. He said it also helps that they offer a discount for the NSU community.
"We just did an event last weekend and we got 40 new recommendations from the doctor," he said.
One change the dispensary has had to make is how they deal with patients, though. The staff was told recently by an inspector that bud tenders aren't allowed to offer much medical advice, so the dispensary workers have to word how a particular product might affect someone differently.
The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority is actually short on inspectors at the moment. OMMA Executive Director Adria Berry recently said her highest priority at the moment is to hire enough compliance inspectors to catch up on the current backlog of inspections.
"It is a matter of public health and patient safety to ensure every business licensed by OMMA, including grows, is fully inspected," she said.
The backlog of inspections isn't the only thing the authority is reportedly trying to get caught up on. At Yellow House Dispensary in Tahlequah, Grant Tracy said the first round of patient license renewals that started last year has likely hindered OMMA's ability to deal with every renewal as they come in.
"Just going by the amount of people that have had delays on getting their cards, I would guess the OMMA is a little behind," he said. "Sometimes they send the wrong information or uploaded a different picture, but there's been a lot of people that are just behind. I've had a couple people that have actually come in with a letter from OMMA for them to be able to get their meds without having their new card."
After having made a living for 20 years as a musician, Tracy said the pandemic put a halt to the number of shows he could perform. So he opened Yellow House six months ago, and the business has exceeded his expectations so far.
"We have noticed a difference since school is back as normal this semester. There's definitely more college kids coming in," he said.
Those with their medical marijuana license are likely familiar with the overabundance of packaging collected as they visit dispensaries. It's common for medical users to acquire a pile of plastic containers used to transfer the product. Tracy said that's something that should be addressed.
"This is supposed to be an environmentally conscious industry," he said. "As far as the people that are participating in it, everybody seems to be worried about our environment. I think Oklahoma shoveling tons of plastic into the landfill on top of everything else we put in there — because of the cannabis — is something we need to try to figure out."