It looks like there won’t be enough medical marijuana patients to support all of Oklahoma’s cannapreneurs. The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority has recently announced that they have only received 7,330 applications for patients and 600 applications for a dispensary license.
Assuming all of the medical marijuana applicants will be approved, that means there could be a ratio of only twelve patients for each dispensary. That’s a lot of supply and very, very little demand. Worse yet, some state health care facilities don’t allow their doctors to recommend medical marijuana products. This makes experts very pessimistic about the immediate future of this industry. However, the number of applicants is expected to climb within the year—possibly to 80,000.
Still, that doesn’t bode well for the state’s small businesses. Even if that ratio balances out, the market will no doubt be competitive. And when there’s this much competition, it invariably leads to the weeding out of small businesses and the privileging of those with money to spare.
If small businesses want to survive, they’ll have to differentiate their inventories and services from the bigger companies that settle into Oklahoma’s market. Otherwise, they’ll constantly be running head-to-head with better equipped and better-funded companies. That’s the importance of finding a niche. By selling useful products that few others are selling, a small business can greatly lower competition.
This comes three months after state voters approved State Question 788, an initiative regarding the legalization of medical marijuana in Oklahoma. Packaged into that initiative was a provision that put no cap on the number of medical marijuana business licenses that could be approved. It also allows dispensaries to open wherever they want, exempting them from zoning restrictions. At first blush, this sounds like an entrepreneur’s dream. But in reality, it’s sowed a market so competitive that it isn’t likely to generate survivable profits for most of the companies involved.
Clearly, Oklahoma doesn’t want to keep cannapreneurs out. That’s a fair goal, but the state’s hyper inclusivity seems as if it will only drive marijuana prices-per-pound down. And since the state doesn’t plan on revoking licenses, the best thing Oklahomans can do is make sure that the medical marijuana patient enrollment process as accessible and widespread as possible. That’s their best chance at creating the demand for the already overabundant supply.