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Oklahoma Has Approved One Dispensary For Every 12 Patients So Far

Oklahoma Has Approved 1 Dispensary For Every 12 Patients
Photo Gracie Malley for Cannabis Now

Economics

Oklahoma Has Approved One Dispensary For Every 12 Patients So Far

Oklahoma’s new medical marijuana program has no restrictions on the number of dispensaries they’ll approve. In these early days, the state is approving an outsize number of businesses compared to patients.

The entrepreneurs of Oklahoma and beyond have wasted no time in attempting to get involved in the state’s forthcoming medical marijuana industry with 1,852 business license applications filed so far.

The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority said in an announcement on Tuesday that 8,554 patient, 73 caregiver and 1,852 business applications have been received for a grand total of 10,479 applications. Out of this bunch, 8,321 licenses have already been approved, including 6,700 patients, 42 caregivers, 531 dispensaries, 824 growers and 224 processors.

This points to an immediate problem in Oklahoma’s medical marijuana program: the patient-to-dispensary ratio is not sustainable. If you just count the licenses which have already been approved, you’re looking at roughly 12 patients for every licensed storefront. Even wilder, there are currently only about eight patients for every cultivator this far along in the process.

One Oklahoma businessman told the Associated Press that this is exactly what voters approved.

“We need to be careful about how our market evolves,” Bud Scott of New Health Solutions told the AP. “But this is what the people voted for and our Legislature decided not to take any real actions to implement control we’ve seen in other markets, so now here we are. It’s kind of survival of the fittest to see who makes it and who doesn’t.”

The race to exist in Oklahoma should be an interesting meld of capitalism and Darwinism.

The hyper-flooded market will be sure to favor consumers’ wallets, but some folks’ big money dreams might be a stretch at this point. Nevertheless, you can’t win if you don’t play. And in that sense, local Oklahoma activists are suggesting everyone with goals of cannabis glory and a spare $2,500 should apply for a license before lawmakers come back next year and potential change the rules.

However, these are still the earliest days of the Oklahoma industry. Most of these companies will be thinking long-term, as adult-use legalization missed making the ballot by only 20,000 signatures. As with other states that have gone from medical to legal markets, many of the medical storefronts end up being some of the biggest winners when a state goes fully legal. This is pending that they aren’t taxed out of existence, but generally, a medical dispensary is one of the best things you can have going for you in a business sense while waiting for full adult access to show up. However, if the market were to be hyper-saturated, one would think at least a few hundred of these potential storefronts wouldn’t survive the competitive patient market to make it to adult use.

Also, it’s important to note that the actual size of the patient population in Oklahoma is expected to grow substantially. Many people may be waiting to see how things play out — and recent numbers have demonstrated this phenomenon is at work. According to OMMA authorities, 1,400 new people applied to be patients in the last five days. As this continues to happen, the patient-to-dispensary ratio should improve.

“I think it’s too early to jump to any conclusions about the number of patients that will apply,” Marijuana Policy Project spokesman Mason Tvert told Cannabis Now.

Tvert suspects that number will grow significantly over time as more people become familiar with medical cannabis and the law and word of mouth begins to spread.

“I also think it’s too soon to jump to any conclusions about the number of businesses, as it is still unclear how many will receive licenses and how many of those will move forward with opening,” Tvert said.

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