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Breaking down what happens with Oklahoma's medical marijuana fees

Posted at 5:46 PM, Feb 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-13 18:46:03-05

TULSA, OK (KJRH) — Experts say most of the money medical marijuana brings in to Oklahoma goes back into the state's Department of Health. Between medical marijuana and tax collections, the state may have brought in more than $11 million since October 2018.

Most of the money comes from permit fees, which is supposed to be used to run the medical marijuana program. The rest of the money coming in comes from two types of taxes that are added on to medical marijuana purchases. There's a 7 percent medical marijuana tax, as well as the local sales tax.

According to the Oklahoma Tax Commission, the Department of Health is the recipient of the 7 percent medical marijuana tax. That money, more than $375,000 total since October, goes toward running the regulatory office until the budget is filled. The excess is split up, 25 percent toward the department's Drug and Alcohol Rehab fund, and 75 percent to the General Revenue fund.

There are also fees tied to applying for a medical marijuana permit, which goes to the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA).

"The OMMA is under the Department of Health right now, the way it's currently structured, so all that money goes to the Department of Health for the management of the program," said Tulsa lawyer Ron Durbin. "Our concern is what do they do with the excess; how are they able to divert any excess out of the program?"

Most patients end up paying $100 per medical marijuana application. According to the OMMA, more than 43,000 patients have had their licenses approved, which totals more than $4 million in fees. Businesses like processors, dispensaries, and growers have to pay $2,500, which amounts to more than $7 million more, given there are more than 3,000 licensed businesses across the state, according to the OMMA.

Durbin says because State Question 788 was unclear in terms of how the license application money should be used, it will take more legislation to clear up what should happen with excess funds.

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