A new law requires commercial medical marijuana growers to get at least a $50,000 bond, said Tulsa medical marijuana attorney Stephen Cale. The following is for educational purposes only. It is not legal advice. Laws change often. Anyone with legal questions should contact an attorney.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed SB 913 on April 20th. It goes into effect immediately, Cale said.
“Our state has had many problems with marijuana grows abandoning land and leaving behind a large mess,” said Sen. Darcy Jech (R-Kingfisher), who authored the bill. “Ultimately, this will help clean up valuable farmland that has been harmed by illegal operations and allows OMMA or any other appropriate state agency to recoup costs associated with the cleanup.”
WHAT THE NEW BOND LAW REQUIRES
The new law requires grower license applicants to submit a bond with the license application.
But the law also appears to make it illegal for a commercial marijuana grower to operate without a bond – even before submitting proof of the bond with the license application (See SB 913, Section 2(A): ” It shall be unlawful for any holder of a medical marijuana business license pursuant to Section 427.14 of Title 63 of the Oklahoma Statutes to engage in any commercial growing operations in this state without acquiring a bond.”)
The bond must cover the area of land upon which the grower will initiate and conduct growing operations. A separate license requires a separate bond.
The bond amount must be at least $50,000. However, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) or the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), may require a higher amount “depending upon the reclamation requirements of the approved application.”
Bonds higher than the minimum amount must “reflect the probable difficulty of reclamation with consideration for such factors including, but not limited to topography, hydrology, and revegetation potential.”
If a property requires restoration, the bond must be used to defray the cost of restoration. That includes, but is not limited to, removing equipment, destroying waste, remediating environmental hazards, prohibiting public access, addressing improperly coded buildings, or determining the final disposition of any seized property.
EXCEPTIONS TO THE BOND REQUIREMENT
The new law provides an exception to the bond requirement, said Tulsa medical marijuana attorney Stephen Cale.
A licensed grower may operate without obtaining a bond if OMMA verifies that the permitted land on which the licensee operates the commercial growing operation has been owned by the licensee for at least a five-year period prior to submission of application.
“People need to be careful about this exception because it applies to the licensee only,” Cale said.
There could be some companies holding a grower license who operate on land, but do not necessarily own it. An example of that would be a company leasing property for a grow operation.
WHO VOTED FOR AND AGAINST SB 193
Here is the tally of those in the State House and Senate voting on SB 193.