On Friday, Politico magazine published an in-depth look at the Oklahoma cannabis market and how it became the envy of America. It is a long, sullied history that begins with tearing apart generations of families and ends making millionaires out of others — all over the same plant.
Politico needed nearly 8,000 words to
write the book make their points; here are some highlights:
Oklahoma is now the biggest medical marijuana market in the country on a per capita basis. More than 360,000 Oklahomans—nearly 10 percent of the state’s population—have acquired medical marijuana cards over the last two years. By comparison, New Mexico has the country’s second most popular program, with about 5 percent of state residents obtaining medical cards. Last month, sales since 2018 surpassed $1 billion.
Oklahomans REALLY love their wacky tobacky, and the numbers prove it! Does our record-breaking marijuana consumption have anything to do with that infamous Forbes magazine list that ranked Tulsa and Oklahoma City among the ten most dangerous cities in America — or that recent one that showed Oklahoma ranked #1 in despair?!
Whatever the myriad factors, Oklahomans must experiencing a tremendous level of something in order to push our legal cannabis consumption past the BILLION dollar mark.
What is happening in Oklahoma is almost unprecedented among the 35 states that have legalized marijuana in some form since California voters backed medical marijuana in 1996. Not only has the growth of its market outstripped other more established state programs but it is happening in a state that has long stood out for its opposition to drug use. Oklahoma imprisons more people on a per-capita basis than just about any other state in the country, many of them non-violent drug offenders sentenced to lengthy terms behind bars.
This observation does a good job encompassing everything Oklahoma’s cannabis program has come to represent: A transformative shift in how we live that has required a redefining of our identity as a whole.
No longer are we a conservative bastion of antiquated ideas and goals. We are now a conservative bastion of antiquated ideas and goals who are allowed to get REALLY high to deal with all the bullshit. I wonder many of us would have packed our shit and moved someplace else, were it not for easy access to cannabis.
“Turns out rednecks love to smoke weed. That’s the thing about cannabis: It really bridges socio-economic gaps. The only other thing that does it is handguns. All types of people are into firearms. All types of people are into cannabis.”
— Chip Baker
According to the tales he told Politico, this Baker fellow has been growing the ganja since he was a wee lad of 13. Given that kind of life experience, I am willing to take everything Chip Baker says as gospel.
Therefore, I now believe that weed and firearms are the tools necessary to unify humanity, and — based on that information — it only makes sense for the epicenter of unification to be where the MOST weed and guns are…Oklahoma!
But lax as it might seem, Oklahoma’s program has generated a hefty amount of tax revenue while avoiding some of the pitfalls of more intensely regulated programs. Through the first 10 months of this year, the industry generated more than $105 million in state and local taxes. That’s more than the $73 million expected to be produced by the state lottery this fiscal year.
I think it says a lot (good!) that our state’s new program to regulate a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance is so completely outperforming the long-established program for simple, gas station gambling!
Contributing over $30 million more dollars in tax revenue than the lottery, cannabis has no doubt earned its place as a permanent fixture in the money machine that pays our police and ignores all of the potholes destroying our vehicle suspensions.
But Hey! at least we’re high!