Number of medical marijuana patients rising exponentially in Oklahoma

    Medical marijuana on display at Peak Dispensary in Edmond. (KOKH/Connor Hansen)

    The number of patients applying for medical marijuana licenses is growing so rapidly that the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority has temporarily closed its call center.

    Patients can still apply online and find information, but no one will be there to answer the phones.

    The OMMA says it's using the people who normally answer the phones to help process all of their applications.

    "We won't be answering phone calls for the time being," said Melissa Miller, the communications manager for the OMMA. "That will allow us to take those staff who are usually taking their time to answer phone calls to process applications instead."

    Miller says, in early September, they were getting about 1,200 patients applying per week.

    In early January, it was about 3,200 per week.

    Now, it has reached about 4,000 per week.

    "We anticipate it will probably continue to increase, we don't know by how much, but we're just preparing to meet the demand whatever it is," Miller said.

    In total, about 52,000 patients have applied, which is in line with what the OMMA expected.

    About 3,300 businesses have applied to sell or process marijuana.

    One of those dispensaries says its customer base has more than doubled.

    "Back in November, we were averaging about 30 to 40 patients per day," said Corbin Wyatt, the CEO of Peak Dispensaries. "Now, in early February, we're averaging about 130 patients per day."

    Wyatt says they've been getting 400 new patients at each of their nine locations per week.

    "Now that it's a little more normalized, now that people have seen that this isn't something where your neighbors are going to tell on you and it's not a bad thing to do," Wyatt said. "More and more people are warming up to the idea and they're hopping on board."

    The OMMA says right now it's working on hiring more staff to keep up with the growing demand.

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