The Oklahoma Miracle: Flourishing Pot Industry is a Testament to Free-Market Weed

In 2018, voters in Oklahoma legalized medicinal marijuana. In keeping with the state’s laissez-faire economic policies, the new market was left to flourish with few restrictions. There are no limits on marijuana business licenses and few eligibility requirements for obtaining a medical marijuana card. Land and materials are already dirt cheap. The result has been one of the most prolific cannabis markets in the United States — and the largest for medical weed.

Since 2018, Oklahoma’s medical marijuana sales have raked in over $1 billion. The state has over 9,000 licensed marijuana businesses (Colorado, which is larger, has just 3,000).

“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,” writes Paul Demko for POLITICO. “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. But that state-sanctioned punitive streak has been overwhelmed by two other strands of American culture—a live-and-let-live attitude about drug use and an equally powerful preference for laissez-faire capitalism.”

With more red states legalizing all forms of cannabis, we’re going to be treated to an illuminating experiment about government’s role in cannabis regulation and what works best in this burgeoning industry.


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Policy

Tuesday, January 19, 2021 - 14:57

Two years after the federal government legalized industrial hemp production, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has finalized federal regulations for the crop.