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US (OK): Bills target illegal cannabis grow sites, illicit activity

State lawmakers have advanced several bills designed to clamp down on illegal cannabis grow operations and other illicit activities related to Oklahoma’s medical cannabis industry.

One, House Bill 2095, proposes to extend a moratorium on issuing any new licenses for cannabis grow operations until at least August 1, 2026. The measure also would give the state’s attorney general broad authority to assist the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority in investigating grow sites and related individuals or businesses. Among other things, it would allow for unannounced on-site inspections and, “upon reasonable suspicion,” reviews of subpoenaed land ownership documents.

Attorney General Gentner Drummond described the bill, which has passed through the House and advanced to the Senate, as a step in the right direction. “Oklahoma’s illegal cannabis grow operations pose a serious threat to public safety, particularly in rural communities invaded by organized criminals from China and Mexico,” Drummond said.

Oklahoma has witnessed an onslaught of cannabis grow operations since 2018 when voters passed a state question legalizing the drug for medical uses. While many businesses have followed laws in becoming properly licensed and setting up operations open to inspection and regulation, the industry – especially as it relates to illegal grow sites – has amounted to a “Trojan horse” in opening the door for increases in human trafficking, sex trafficking, and other organized crime, Drummond said. The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control has estimated that nearly half of the state’s 6,299 cannabis grow operations are illegal, he said.

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