OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma residents bought a record amount of medical marijuana in April, as dispensaries sold enough of it to raise tax collections by more than 25 percent, according to the state Tax Commission.
The commission’s figures show that dispensaries paid nearly $9.8 million in taxes last month, surpassing the previous record of $7.8 million set in March, The Oklahoman reported. It’s the highest month-to-month gain since last summer.
People across the state spent about $61.4 million on medical marijuana in April, or nearly $217 per licensed patient, a tax collection analysis revealed.
The tax collections started just a week after Governor Kevin Stitt issued his “Safer at Home” directive, which shut down many nonessential businesses and forced people to work remotely. Medical marijuana dispensaries were deemed an essential industry, which allowed them to stay open.
“With the stay-home order in place, and medical marijuana dispensaries being categorized as essential health services, Oklahoma patients were afforded the ability to take their medicine on a more regular basis and sample a broader range of available medicines,” said Bud Scott, executive director of the Oklahoma Cannabis Industry Association.
Despite the record sales, some Oklahoma businesses are still struggling as the developing industry faces intense competition. Some business owners said it's unfair that they didn't receive the financial aid issued to others during the coronavirus pandemic because the industry is still illegal under federal law and they don't qualify for federal assistance programs.
Keith Wiley, owner of Native Brothers Dispensary, said his own sales have slowed recently but larger chains offering near-wholesale prices could be reaping the benefits of the uptick. Wiley added that cannabis being used as a stress-reliever could explain Oklahoma’s sale increases as people grapple with the COVID-19 outbreak.
“I’ve probably medicated more these past few months. You’ve got people staying home and getting stimulus checks, and what are they spending it on? Things that help keep them calm and collected,” Wiley said.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as a fever and a cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.