New Laws in Oklahoma: Secret Shopper Program for Medical Marijuana, Biomarker Testing Coverage, and More!

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – As the new year begins, several new laws have come into effect in Oklahoma that could have a significant impact on various aspects of daily life. One of these laws aims to combat illegal activity within the medical marijuana industry. House Bill 3971, passed during the 2022 regular session, mandates the implementation of a secret shopper program by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA). These undercover individuals will be tasked with purchasing predetermined amounts of products from dispensaries for random testing. To promote accountability, at least 50 licensed dispensaries will be inspected annually, with the goal of inspecting 10% of all Oklahoma dispensaries by 2025. The law also introduces a relabeling process for products that do not match their packaging and enables OMMA to take action against license holders based on testing results.

In addition to the efforts to regulate the medical marijuana industry, the OMMA has launched a new system for employee credentialing in the medical cannabis industry. Starting from January 1, industry employees are required to submit background and identification information to the OMMA by the end of the month. The implementation of this system, as mandated by a 2022 bill, aims to increase accountability among business owners and enhance consumer protection by conducting both state and national background checks.

Health benefit plans in Oklahoma will now be required to provide coverage for biomarker testing, thanks to another new law. Biomarker testing plays a crucial role in determining the most effective treatment for diseases like cancer, arthritis, autoimmune conditions, and rare conditions. This expansion of coverage is expected to save time, money, and lives by ensuring that patients receive the treatment they need more swiftly.

Furthermore, the new laws in Oklahoma have brought an increase in the maximum gross household income eligibility for the additional $1,000 homestead exemption. Households with a gross income of up to $30,000 now qualify for this exemption, compared to the previous threshold of $25,000.

Recognizing the significant number of Oklahomans who care for aging family members, a new income tax credit has been introduced to assist these caregivers. Caregivers of family members aged 62 or older can now claim a 50% credit on eligible expenditures. The credit amounts to $2,000 per family member or $3,000 if the family member is a veteran or has dementia. To qualify, the family member must require assistance with at least two daily activities, as certified by a licensed healthcare provider. Caregivers must also meet the income criteria of having a federal adjusted gross income below $50,000 for single filers or $100,000 for joint filers.

In addition to these changes, Oklahoma has addressed the issue of the so-called “marriage tax” by modifying the income amount subject to the 3.75% personal income tax bracket for joint filers. The threshold has been increased from $2,400 to $4,600, resulting in estimated annual savings of nearly $15 million for married couples in the state.

Looking ahead, the Capitol in Oklahoma is buzzing with preparations for the upcoming legislative session, set to begin on February 5. With over 350 Senate bills already filed and more expected, lawmakers are gearing up for a busy period of deliberation. Budget hearings are also scheduled in the coming weeks, providing an opportunity to discuss and analyze the new budgeting process. For those interested, these hearings can be streamed live on the Senate website.

For more information or to provide feedback, Senator Bill Coleman can be reached by calling 405-521-5581 or emailing [email protected].

In summary, Oklahoma has implemented new laws in various areas, including medical marijuana regulation, employee credentialing, healthcare coverage, tax credits for caregivers, and income tax adjustments. These changes aim to increase accountability, enhance consumer protection, and provide support for Oklahoma residents in diverse circumstances.