Some Oklahoma medical marijuana dispensaries are now selling products
Oklahoma City, light 'em up.
Legally grown and cultivated marijuana is now being sold by dispensaries throughout the metro. Enough time has lapsed for full maturation of marijuana plants to produce smokable “bud” or “flower,” and it is finally entering the market.
If you have a medical marijuana card, you can legally purchase that Oklahoma-grown marijuana.
A new industry means no established players, and everyone is fighting for market share that didn't exist. Retailers are taking different approaches to the market, even if many of their products are the same.
“Our business model is built more toward CBD (cannabidiol),” CBD Plus USA President Matt Baker said. “It's set up in a cleaner environment so someone who doesn't like the traditional head shop feel will feel comfortable.”
Cannabidiol is a chemical compound found in the hemp plant. It is legally obtainable without a medical marijuana card. CBD Plus USA has more than 40 retail locations in Oklahoma specializing in the product, but only 26 are dispensaries.
The business proved viable with only CBD products, but the marijuana provides additional products for different needs, Baker said. There are smokable products as well as others for consumption.
In north Oklahoma City, Happy Root 420 Manager Erick Johnson is busy operating the nearly month-old dispensary.
“This is a wide-open industry,” Johnson said. “If you can find your niche, you can create a multimillion dollar business. It's wide open, it's literally like the land run.”
Happy Root 420 is a dispensary currently selling marijuana “bud,” also called “flower,” edibles and THC concentrates. Prices vary by product and quantity, as it would for any retail store, and customers are recommended certain products for specific needs.
Unlike the atmosphere at CBD Plus, the smell of marijuana is stronger, decorations are more marijuana specific, including a large mural on one wall; and most notable is the presence of an armed guard at the door. Safety for consumers and employees is a primary concern, Johnson said.
“At the end of the day we are cash only, and to keep it honest, we are selling weed,” Johnson said. “Safety is paramount, so we always have armed security.”
Chip Paul worked on the campaign to legalize medical marijuana, which was approved by a statewide vote June 26. He said precautionary safety measures are one example of how those in the industry are exceeding expectations.
“Things are going remarkably well for a lack of definition and boundaries,” Paul said. “The industry is doing a good job going above and beyond what is required. There's no security requirements, there are no testing requirements ... on and on and on.”
Some products may not have been legal
Because the time needed to fully grow legally licensed marijuana plants to bud, harvest the flower and dry the product is only just now occurring, there is potential some product on the market was not entirely legal, Paul said.
“Certainly some dispensaries started selling flower early, but for the most part dispensary owners have been responsible and not done that,” Paul said.
Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics spokesman Mark Woodward said the department has received several complaints about retailers opening too soon, but that those complaints came from competitors in the industry.
It's difficult to determine with precision if a product was grown too early or brought in from another state because certain strains grow at different speeds, according to Woodward.
“There's been no evidence that's gotten to the point that we believe it's an allegation we need to open an investigation on,” Woodward said.
Happy Root, which opened about a month ago, is one of the first dispensaries to open in the metro. The early products are limited, and prices likely will fall as more dispensaries open and more products flood the market, Johnson said.
“I'd say come this summertime it will be a lot easier to acquire because a lot more product will be available,” Johnson said. “It's your basic supply and demand.”
Johnson and Baker both purchase their product from growers in Oklahoma. However, beginning in January, CBD Plus will be growing its own product for quality control purposes.
“That's why we are going independent,” Baker said. “We will be able to control all our strains.”
Johnson buys his products from sources across the state, which has presented challenges.
“It's been a tiring process. Driving all across the state looking at flower — sometimes you're going to waste trips because you're going to drive out to the Panhandle and you're going to drive home empty-handed,” Johnson said.
“Sometimes it's not, you drive down the street to a grower just outside the metro and find some really good bud. It's like a treasure hunt.”
That treasure hunt could pay dividends, but customers need to know it will take time, Johnson said.
“People expect a Colorado or California-style dispensary in Oklahoma City or Oklahoma right now, immediately,” Johnson said. “It's not going to happen. It's going to take time.”