By Therin Miller | May 10, 2022
The Oklahoma Senate on Thursday gave final passage to legislation that would make the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority a freestanding state agency. The bill now awaits action from Gov. Kevin Stitt.
The legislation is the result of years of discussions about moving the OMMA out of the Oklahoma Health Department. The House has supported similar legislation in recent years, but it wasn't until Oklahoma City Republicans Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat and House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols authored Senate Bill 1543 this year that the idea really took off in the Senate.
Treat previously said he couldn't get on board with plans to move the OMMA until he saw details of how such a move would allow the agency to better enforce the state's medical marijuana laws.
"Having (the OMMA) under the Department of Health may have been a good start for it, but it's been shielded from proper oversight on its budget" Treat said in a January interview. "It's also been inhibited in its ability to truly become an enforcer of the rules and regulations that I think Oklahomans expect it to be."
Last year, the Senate shot down legislation to combine the Medical Marijuana Authority with the ABLE Commission, which oversees the enforcement of Oklahoma's alcohol laws.
SB 1543 was included in House Republicans' 12-point plan for improving the state's medical marijuana program and cracking down on illegal cannabis operations.
Under the bill, the executive director of the OMMA would be appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate.