Ziggyz is working through haze of cannabis regulation

By Chris Eversole

Staff Writer

Selling cannabis-based products requires keeping up with the world of regulation, especially now.

That’s the view of Chelsey Davis, who owns Ziggyz Cannabis Co., which has 10 stores in the Oklahoma City metro, including one between Yukon and Mustang.

Davis plans to apply for medical marijuana dispensary permits once he can.

The Oklahoma Department of Health has said that it will announce application requirements July 26, and that it will begin accepting applications by Aug. 25.

Davis is taking the announced deadline with a grain of salt.

He’s seen state and federal regulation of his business go back and forth, and he expects lawsuits to challenge plans for implementing medical marijuana regulations.

“I’m a small business in a big business game because of all the regulation,” he said.

The state currently allows the sale of products containing the compound cannabidiol, generally called CBD, but with only trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol — or THC – the psychoactive chemical in marijuana.

A state law passed three years ago allowed CBD sales, and sales have been growing in stores, including some pharmacies.

CBD products make up 20 percent of his sales, he estimates.

While he is selling CBD without state interference now, he has experienced conflict with regulators in the past.

In April 2015, federal Drug Enforcement Agency agents raided Ziggyz stores, which then was under different ownership.

They seized six trailer truck loads of merchandise, including rolling papers, glass pipes, water pipes, scales and other items, according to court testimony.

The DEA claimed it was looking for synthetic marijuana, but the government has not brought any charges related to the raid.

Soon after that, Davis bought the business and its remaining inventory.

Davis then sued the federal government in U.S. District Court in Oklahoma City challenging it for threatening his landlords, causing many to pull leases.

He won.

“The government may not attack what it views as illegal activity by simply putting someone out of business, through ‘leaning’ on their landlords or customers or other backdoor means,” U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton wrote in an order dated Aug. 18, 2015.

Eventually, the federal government might get in the business of regulating medical marijuana sales, but with that change the federal policy might deem medical marijuana a drug that only pharmacies can sell, Davis noted.

“There’s a big tug-of-war now, but eventually it will break one way of the other, in favor of small business or in favor of big business.”

Whatever happens with medical marijuana permitting, he hopes that he will be able to get a dispensary license.

Proposed regulations from the state call for medical marijuana dispensaries to not sell anything but marijuana products.

That means that Davis will have to have dispensaries at different locations than his current stores, which sell products related to smoking and ones containing CBD.

The draft rules also would forbid Sunday sales of medical marijuana.

“They’re treating it as sin, when it’s actually medicine,” Davis said.

He considers himself the biggest company selling CBD in the Oklahoma City metro, but he’s following the recent influx of stores selling such products.

“Colorado money from people who already have made a fortune is coming in,” he said.

Davis appreciates being able to pass on the medical benefits of CBD to customers, ranging from helping with arthritis to diabetes.

“A woman came in who used to make quilts,” he said. “She hadn’t been able to make a fist for 10 years, but when she tried CBD cream in the store, she immediately was able to make one.”

He cautions consumers to beware of the variations in quality among CBD products.

They vary considerably, depending on the quality of the plants, the way they are processed and their CBD content.

“The best products are from Colorado and Europe, but those from China and Canada tend to not be as good,” he said.

Davis is dedicated to selling high quality products.

“Many people are jumping on board with CBD before they know what they’re doing,” he said. “It’s a fad, like spinners.”

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