Cannabis activists in Oklahoma have joined forces with three of the state’s medical cannabis suppliers to file a lawsuit against regulatory fee increases that took effect last month. The lawsuit, which alleges the fee increases are unconstitutional, was filed Friday by Jeb Greene, founder of Oklahomans for Responsible Cannabis Action, and Farside, a medical cannabis dispensary, Oklahoma Natural Cures, and Bingo 101. woke up to
The lawsuit challenges a new fee structure for medical cannabis businesses signed into law by Oklahoma Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt in May 2022. This bill, House Bill 2179 (HB2179) will increase the regulatory fees charged by the Oklahoma Medical Cannabis Authority (OMMA) to licensed medical cannabis businesses operating in the state.
Previously, medical cannabis businesses paid a flat fee of $2,500 for each licensed business. But under HB 2179, which went into effect on June 1 this year, fees have increased significantly, with annual payouts of up to $50,000 for the largest cannabis growing businesses.
A lawsuit filed last week said any legally authorized toll increase is a “revenue increase” measure and must be passed by at least 75% of members of the Oklahoma Senate and House of Representatives under Oklahoma law. claim. of the representative. Additionally, the revenue increase bill may not pass in the final five days of Congress.
However, HB 2179 failed to achieve the required supermajority and was passed during the 2022 legislative session and passed during the 2022 legislative session. Plaintiffs argue that HB 2179 is not a simple regulatory bill because it does not add new regulations funded by new tolls.
“In other words, the purpose of this law is not to regulate in nature, but instead to increase revenue,” the complaint states. as quoted oklahoman. “Even if license fees provide financial support to OMMA, those fees are not tied tightly to the cost of service charged.”
Plaintiffs estimate that the new fees authorized by the law will increase licensing revenues collected by OMMA by at least $28.58 million annually. The actual amount could be higher, they said, as some medical cannabis companies are placed in different fee tiers depending on the size of their business.
The lawsuit alleges that the toll increase violates the Oklahoma Constitution and should be reversed. Further, plaintiffs allege that HB 2179 included a tiered fee structure for some companies but not others, thus enacting a discriminatory “special law.” claim.
“Our challenges[to the law]go beyond cannabis. This is a constitutional issue that affects all Oklahoma taxpayers. I respectfully request that you do so,” Green said. “Our medical cannabis program has been profitable from day one. We have contributed hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue over the last five years.
HB 2179 is not the only law passed to tighten regulation of Oklahoma’s medical cannabis program. After a ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana in Oklahoma failed to win voter approval in March, lawmakers introduced dozens of bills proposing tougher regulations on medical marijuana providers in the state. bottom. Of these, 9 bills were approved Passed by MPs and signed into law by Stitt. These include SB 18X, which creates a medical marijuana tax fund under the control of the state legislature and appropriates state-collected medical marijuana taxes to OMMA.