This summer, medical cannabis dispensaries in Oklahoma are offering patients a unique way to cope with the heat: THC-infused slushies.
Over the past month, some dispensaries have installed slushy machines capable of dispensing frozen weed beverages in a variety of flavors at a cost of $12 to $15. As temperatures continue to rise, so have drink sales — but Sooner State regulators just warned that these products fail to meet safety and testing regulations.
In a recent “slushy-machine guidance” memo, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) warned that “marijuana-infused slushies are unlikely to meet requirements set forth in Oklahoma statutes and rules.” According to the memo, these products violate at least three of the state's medical cannabis testing and packaging regulations.
For one, the state requires that all medical marijuana products are sold in child-resistant packaging. These packages must be opaque, resealable, and difficult for a 5-year-old to open. The slushies, which are generally sold in standard plastic cups, do not meet any of these requirements.
OMMA also notes that individual dispensaries can only sell products that are packaged by a licensed cannabis producer. Dispensaries are prohibited from altering, packaging, or labeling products themselves. That means the slushies are technically violating these guidelines.
The slushies also violate a third rule, according to the Sooner State’s memo, that requires all medical cannabis products to be tested in their final form. So while the THC used in these drinks may have passed the state's standard lab tests, the law requires that the slushies still need to be tested for safety.
“In this instance, the finished product is the slushy mixture to be dispensed to patients/caregivers, not the syrup,” the memo explains. “If water, ice, or any other substance is added to the product, additional testing is required to ensure the product is safe for consumption and final-product labeling is accurate.”
But despite the warnings, OMMA did not actually threaten to prevent dispensaries from selling weed slushies. And without any specific threat in place, many dispensaries are still offering these frozen treats. It remains to be seen whether the authorities will eventually crack down on these products, or if dispensaries will make an effort to comply with the regulations.
A freeze on slushy sales may be a bummer for patients, but it is unlikely to do any lasting damage to the state's robust medical pot industry. In the two years since voters approved the country's most progressive medical marijuana law, Oklahoma's homegrown weed industry has grown leaps and bounds. Dispensaries break new sales records nearly every month, with a high of $73 million in April – more than many states' adult-use industries sold that same month.
In May, the state legislature passed a bill that would allow dispensaries to make home weed deliveries and allow out-of-state residents to buy medical pot. Unfortunately, Governor Kevin Stitt (R) vetoed the bill, and lawmakers did not vote to overturn the veto. Still, over 1 out of every 13 Oklahomans currently has a medical marijuana card, and the state's industry is slated to continue growing.