Lawsuit Against State Seeks To Curb Medical Marijuana Licensing Fees

Friday, October 19th 2018, 12:57 pm
By: Emory Bryan

A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of a Weatherford woman against the state of Oklahoma and several other groups in relation to the implementation of medical marijuana in the state.

Specifically, the suit has been filed against the state, the Oklahoma Department of Health, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, and the Oklahoma Tax Commission with the purpose of ending additional medical marijuana license requirements and collection of fees.

This new lawsuit accuses the state of over-regulating marijuana; it's the basic legal issue of what cities have tried to do and it's looking more likely the state Supreme Court will end up deciding what voters really intended by approving medical marijuana.

Nikki Lerch and her lawyer filed the suit on Friday over state permits they believe are intended to limit the industry instead of just regulate it.

"It's a snowball effect that we hoped the legislature would fix, but they haven't so we've got to keep fighting this battle to put this to a stop and put in the program in that people voted for," said attorney Rob Durbin

Durbin claims the state doesn't treat marijuana as medicine when it comes to taxes, and that means patients pay twice as much taxes as they would for any other medication.

"They are asking patients to pay the 7% excise tax on top of the regular sales tax. So what that means for patients. it means they're going to be paying in excess of 15% on their medicine," said Durbin.

Lerch says by requiring layers of permits the state will limit the success of her startup and as well as all the others.

The Marijuana Authority charges $2,500 for the first permit; the Bureau of Narcotics charges $300, and the growers believe other agencies will come up with more rules and more fees.

"We're paying for this and paying for this and we're just a small business trying to help people get what they want," said Lerch.

The law firm behind the suit held a news conference in Tulsa.