Oklahoma’s two-year moratorium on issuing new medical cannabis licenses will take effect on August 26, News 9 reports. The move follows the passage of a bill last legislative session that imposed the moratorium. 

State officials had initially expected the moratorium to take effect on August 1 but erred in their interpretation of the effective date of the moratorium. Businesses will be allowed to submit license applications until August 26. The moratorium is still set to expire on Aug. 1, 2024, unless the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) director chooses to lift it prior to that date.     

State Sen. Lonnie Paxton (R), a co-sponsor of the bill, said prior to its passage that the pause will allow the OMMA “to catch up with all the new rules that are coming out.” Those new rules were signed into law in June by Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) and include new requirements for laboratories, credentialing for cannabis industry employees, enhanced registration requirements for outdoor cultivators, new packaging rules, and fee increases, among other changes to the state program.

OMMA Director Adria Berry said in a “High Points” video posted to Facebook that the moratorium does not affect license transfers, license renewals, or patient licenses.

“Remember that OMMA has 90 days to process all commercial license applications. We may need to take that entire 90 days especially with the influx in commercial license applications we’re seeing right now, so I ask that you give us a little grace, have a little patience with us, we will get them processed within that statutory time limit.” — Berry, “OMMA High Points Episode 19”

The bill package approved by lawmakers came following concerns that Oklahoma’s medical cannabis program was fraught with diversion and strawman grows for illegal purposes. In May, Stitt signed bills to make the OMMA a standalone agency and increase the penalties for diverting products produced by licensees. The state only just began using Metrc, the seed-to-sale system.

According to OMMA figures outlined by News 9, the number of licensed cannabis cultivators in the state in July was 7,348, a 23% increase from 2020.