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Green Gold Rush: Bureau of Narcotics seizes out-of-state marijuana sold in Oklahoma

OBN seizes California-grown marijuana
Posted at 10:14 PM, Jun 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-03 11:28:43-04

TULSA, Okla. — The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics is launching an investigation into illegal sale of out-of-state marijuana inside Sooner State lines.

Mark Woodward, spokesperson for OBN, said the agency busted a seller from California transporting marijuana to sell to Oklahoma dispensaries.

"That's being sold for pennies on the dollar from Nevada or California or other places on the west coast," he said.

The OBN and Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority inspect and investigate dispensaries and growers to ensure what they are selling is local. With the industry growing by the minute and state inspection staffing struggling to keep up, Woodward said it is a job easier said than done.

"You can only do so many with the people you have and a lot of it has to be complaint driven," Woodward said. "You can count them all on one hand in the past three years of how many cases we've been able to prove."

"We think it's a black eye on the industry," Taras Filenko, CEO of Seed Cannabis Co. in Tulsa, said. "People that are cheating the system make it difficult for guys like us that are trying to do it the right way.”

Filenko's shops partner with local F5 Farms to cultivate its cannabis. He told 2 News, the only way to stop dispensaries from cutting corners and undercutting the competition's prices, is to start tracking them.

"Track from seed-to-sale to ensure this illegal activity doesn't happen," he said.

"Licensees have to account for every single marijuana plant and product that they have in their inventory," David Urbanowicz, director of external affairs and business development for Metrc, said.

Metrc is OMMA's partner seed-to-sale program. Urbanowicz said all participating businesses must submit each plant to Metrc's centralized database and attach an RFID tracking tag to each one.

"That helps making sure that legal product doesn’t leave the legal marketplace, and it also helps that illicit product from entering the marketplace, either," he said.

Urbanowicz said seed-to-sale cannot replace the state's field inspectors, but it can help determine whether or not product is legal.

Filenko uses Metrc, but thousands of business owners across Oklahoma joined a class action lawsuit against OMMA for making the tracking system the agency's exclusive business partner. This week, an Okmulgee County judge granted Metrc permission to intervene as a defendant in the lawsuit alongside OMMA.

Urbanowicz told 2 News, the next hearing in the case will be in Okmulgee County court on June 29.

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