House of Representatives

Bill Creating Grant Program for County Sheriffs Signed by Governor

5/10/2022 12:44:00 PM

OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. David Hardin, R-Stilwell, today celebrated the governor's signing of House Bill 3530 which will create a grant program for county sheriffs to combat illegal marijuana activities in Oklahoma. The bill was authored in the Senate by Sen. Darrell Weaver, R-Moore, and passed by wide margins in both chambers.

"OMMA compliance inspectors are being met with resistance at medical marijuana facilities across our state," Hardin said. "They are just trying to do their jobs and make sure everything is done by the book, but they aren't law enforcement officers. They don't carry a weapon and are often met by people carrying firearms telling them to leave a property. This grant program will allow for one full time deputy to be totally dedicated to assisting OMMA compliance inspectors."

HB 3530 creates an annual grant program funded by $5 million from the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) budget. The program would provide county sheriffs close to $65,000 for one year and would require one deputy to be assigned to assist OMMA compliance inspectors. County and law enforcement officials are praising the signing of the bill.

"House Bill 3530 is an enormous boost to public safety for the counties in Oklahoma," Cleveland County Commissioner Rod Cleveland said. "County sheriffs are the chief law enforcement of the county and are central to keeping law and order. Increasing state funding to each sheriff's department is a huge win for law enforcement in combating illegal grow operations and assisting legal grows. This is a huge victory for the state of Oklahoma."

Ray McNair, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Sheriffs' Association added, "HB 3530 will provide our most rural sheriffs the resources to combat illegal marijuana operations in their county."

The bill comes after OMMA compliance inspectors were denied access to properties 181 times between April 2021 and Feb. 2022. This accounts for 9.6% of all inspections during that period.

“Our county sheriffs are at ground zero, and they need these resources to enforce the laws regulating medical marijuana,” Weaver said.  “I’m grateful to our fellow members for their support and to the governor for signing this bill into law.”

The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics has agreed to conduct drug training for deputies to ensure that they know what they should expect and need to do during compliance inspections. Hardin, who has a background in law enforcement and served as a sheriff, said this bill is about safety.

"This bill is not meant to threaten anyone," Hardin said. "We just want to make sure our compliance inspectors can safely do their jobs. This is a very important piece of legislation that will help rein in illegal marijuana operations and give Oklahomans the safe, fair free market for medical marijuana that they voted for in 2018."