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Oklahoma's cannabis companies look to become forerunners in growing business

About the same time Oklahoma voters were walking up to voting booths and rejecting the State Question 820 recreational marijuana referendum, Arshad Lasi was celebrating new licensing for his Oklahoma-based marijuana company in New Jersey.

Lasi, the 20-something CEO of the Tulsa-based Nirvana Group, had expanded the cannabis company in just a few years from a small tobacco shop to one of the largest vertically-integrated companies in Oklahoma. After voters overwhelmingly approved medical marijuana and the state opened up to the industry in late 2018, Lasi himself opened up more than half a dozen cannabis dispensaries throughout Oklahoma, expanding distribution and manufacturing through 2021.

"Just like every other cannabis business, the pandemic boosted sales, and we were able to take that revenue and grow our business," Lasi said. "Last year, we were able to get licenses in New Jersey and in New Mexico, and a facility in New Mexico. And this year, we'll have a facility in New Jersey. So, over the past four years now in the cannabis space, we went from a single dispensary to basically a multi-state operator."

Oklahoma, with its relatively inexpensive threshold for securing a cannabis license in comparison with other states, has been fertile ground for the marijuana industry in recent years, and dispensaries have vastly outpaced other businesses per capita across the state.


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