A sweeping legislative option introduced this year known as the ‘Unity’ bill has been assessed by the Oklahoma state Senate and heads off to the governor’s desk for his signature. The bill has unanimously passed the Oklahoma Senate and will now simply need the governor’s approval to become law. The Unity bill briefly covered in our series on upcoming legislative changes has come one step closer to becoming official law.
There are a variety of different aspects which will change within the Oklahoma medical marijuana market if the governor does indeed sign the bill into law. Many of these changes will impact businesses more than consumers but a few aspects have become somewhat controversial. With this in mind, today we will dive into the finer details of the Unity bill and attempt to provide an overview as to how the law will change the nascent Oklahoma Medical Marijuana marketplace.
The General Goal & Estimated Costs
The main goal of the bill, as the name suggests, is to fix current holes in the Oklahoma medical marijuana regulations and bring unity to these rules. The bill will allow for a more inclusive enforcement team to have powers to enforce Oklahoma medical marijuana laws. This includes implementing a variety of new positions with the powers of a peacetime officer. Furthermore, the bill plans to add further clarification to a variety of vague aspects to the current Oklahoma medical marijuana regulations.
The bill will aim to set up new guidelines for inventory tracking of marijuana products, testing, advertising, packaging, labeling, and other items. The bill’s sponsors said they do not plan to implement any legislation which will slow down the booming Oklahoma medical marijuana market. With this in mind, estimates suggest that the implementation of the Unity bill will cost the state of Oklahoma $10 million dollars in the first year of implementation. This should not be a huge roadblock for the state to get around as the Oklahoma medical marijuana market will generate more than enough revenue to properly afford this new expense to seal up loose ends within the young sector.
Controversial Workplace Safety Regulations
The Unity bill has a few controversial aspects which have led to concerns. The bill calls for modifications to the Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing Act. These modifications will call for employers to have the option to collect urine, saliva, or blood samples for drug screening. As it applies to cannabis, employers operating within a “safety sensitive” field such as firefighting will have a right to inquire about medications used by their staff.
Some patients feel this violates the covenant between patients and their right to medical privacy. With this in mind, many legislators have come out publicly and stated they have no intention to break this confidence. Instead, the main goal is to increase workplace safety and allow employers to ensure the safety of their employees when working in a high-risk environment. The reality of this part of the Unity bill will be that the enforcement from employers and eventually the courts will have to decide exactly what this means for medical marijuana patients in Oklahoma.
All of these changes should come as a warm welcome to avoid intervention from the federal government where even medical marijuana contradicts current regulations. With that said, we are hopeful that a responsible industry can be built with regulations that do not overstep the bounds of government but still control the exciting new Oklahoma medical marijuana market.
If you ever have any questions about Oklahoma medical marijuana regulatory changes feel free to let us know. We with The Peak Dispensary are always happy to help where we can.
Until next time friends, stay well!