OK Medical Marijuana

A sign advertising medical marijuana sits outside a prospective establishment on Porter Avenue in Norman. Medical marijuana sales officially become legal, per state law, on Oct. 26, but the city of Norman has yet to solidify its own ordinance.

NORMAN — The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority published the addresses on their website of all businesses that filed licenses to grow, process or sell medical marijuana on Oct. 31.

The OMMA didn't alert license holders ahead of their decision to publish the list and, two days later, a property where a local couple intended to grow marijuana was burglarized.

The couple, who requested to remain anonymous due to fear of being victims of future crimes, said they were heading to their property the morning of Nov. 3. They had previously rented the property out and were going to clean it up and begin installing security measures, as required by state law for marijuana farmers. Their farm had been broken into, they said: locks were broken, tools stolen, every cabinet was ransacked, and even the electric junction box had been searched.

They filed a police report with the Norman Police Department, which The Transcript received a copy of. Now, they say they don't want to move onto the property like they were planning to do, they don't want to rent the property and they're worried about selling it.

OMMA communications manager Melissa Miller said license holders acknowledge that their information could be published when they apply, although she said it wasn't always the OMMA's intention to publicize that information.

"We were inundated with requests to share grower's addresses and, because they're public records, we had to reply," Miller said. "We thought it would be easier to make the list public."

Miller said license holders were alerted shortly after the list was published and shared to the OMMA's social media accounts. The authority is working on a process that would allow license holders to surrender their license and be removed from the list, which is updated every Thursday. Licenses cannot be transferred between parties.

"We've heard some people say the same thing [about security], and we understand," Miller said. "At the same time, we remind them they are required to have security measures by law. Security measures should be there, no matter what."

Chip Paul, chairman of Oklahomans For Health, the organization behind the medical marijuana state question that passed earlier this year, said the publication of growing locations, while well-intentioned, puts license holders in jeopardy.

"Clearly this creates security issues for business owners, as well as physicians," Paul said. "It doesn't seem like the department of health is overly concerned about cannabis patients or business owners. We need better protections in place."

Local growers are concerned some of the repeated open records requests were politically motivated, part of a series of efforts by individuals and cities in the state to de facto ban medical marijuana, or at least disincentivize production. According to NPD, no other Norman growing locations had reported break-ins.

Caleb Slinkard was hired as the editor of the Norman Transcript in August of 2015. He is a graduate of Texas A&M University-Commerce and previously was in charge of several newspapers in northeast Texas.