OMMA: 709 commercial marijuana licenses no longer active since 2021 after administrative actions

TULSA, Okla. — More than 700 commercial marijuana licenses have become inactive due to administrative actions, according to the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA).

It comes as the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics (OBN) stated they believe a quarter of all legal grows in Green Country may be operating illegally.

“We are investigating these law firms, brokers, consultants whatever they want to call themselves, who recruit people to Oklahoma,” said OBN Spokesperson Mark Woodward. “And they work behind the scenes to get someone who is a 75 percent owner to claim that they are the local owner of the farm when they know nothing about it. That is fraud. Then the 25 percent of the business comes in from out of state and many of them are criminals.”

Woodward said each “owner” gets paid, and the consultant or person who arranged it gets paid for the license. This, according to Woodward, is what OBN believed happened at a farm in Kingfisher County where four people were murdered. The farm was listed as a legal marijuana grow.

He said the 75 percent owner was listed on several other farms.

“The person who was listed as the 75 percent owner he admitted he is on seven licenses, and he doesn’t know anything about them, so he surrendered all seven of those licenses.

The only survivor of the quadruple homicides was taken into custody, agents said he was listed as the 25 percent owner. Agents said they also arrested the person who set up the license.

“This individual is an accountant in Oklahoma City he has been arrested and being investigated for creating a fraudulent business structure to get the license on that farm,” Woodward said.

OBN said there are more than 8,000 farms registered in Oklahoma. FOX23 wanted to find out how many other farms listed as legal were discovered to be illegal or fraudulent.

We sent an open records request to the OMMA who is responsible for taking applications and issuing the license, but our open records request was denied Wednesday.

OMMA said this in response:

“Per our recent phone conversation, the records you are requesting do not exist. For example, we don’t have documents that said, “X businesses had their licenses revoked after complaints were filed, after illicit activity or after any investigation.” Pursuant to 51 O.S. § 24A.18, we are not required to perform additional recordkeeping or create a record to provide a response.”

FOX23 followed up with OMMA on the phone. The agency then agreed to send a response:

“Since August 2021, there are 709 commercial medical marijuana licenses that are no longer active following OMMA administrative actions. Since becoming an independent state agency on Nov. 1, OMMA now has its own administrative court process instead of the former process within the state Health Department. With that court process in place, OMMA expects to file hundreds of administrative actions in early 2023 related to suspected violations, including about 50 suspected cases of ghost ownership. Those administrative actions could lead to revoked commercial licenses, putting bad actors out of business.”

The OMMA web page indicated that, since 2020, the agency has modified requirements multiple times to be able to get a license, renew and retain one.

Woodward said in the meantime they have shut down 200 farms. Agents said many of the ones listed as legal and set up by lawyers and consultants work directly with criminals.

“Tied to labor trafficking, tied to homicides, tied to moving other drugs, environmental violations, water theft, electrical theft, so many other issues, this goes far beyond moving marijuana to the black market,” he said.

Woodward said many agencies and law enforcement from other states said often black-market marijuana found in their states is linked to a farm in Oklahoma.