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Cannabis co-op

Tulsa native works to connect Oklahoma’s budding industry

Tulsa native Allison Sims is working to organize the cannabis industry.

Greg Bollinger

With the passage of SQ 788, a brand new legal cannabis market sprang into existence. This market presents many new and unexpected challenges to those who have bought in. Tulsa native Allison Sims believes that she can help solve some of those challenges. 

Sims has been involved in insurance for 15 years as vice president at Mullen Benefits Inc., a company her father founded. She was initially reluctant to let cannabis into her life. Both she and her husband had faced addiction before and were very protective of their sobriety. But when her husband was prescribed opioid painkillers for chronic pain, they changed their minds.

“We didn’t want to bring that back into our house,” Sims said. “And so we decided we had to bring cannabis in instead, and I’ve become really open minded to it.”

Now Sims believes cannabis has the potential to end the opioid crisis. She and her husband got a licence for a small grow-op, planning to sell their weed to friends who own dispensaries. But once Sims got involved, she realized Oklahoma’s new cannabis industry is too disorganized, its players too disconnected with one another. It needs, as she says, a mother’s touch.

Sims started a Facebook page, Tulsa Grower’s Society, to boost Tulsa cannabis entrepreneurs and to connect them to each other. Her ultimate goal was to start a cannabis co-op, helping businesses organize and advocate for themselves. She thinks of it as a “cannabis chamber of commerce.”

One topic Sims is addressing with the co-op is the potential for recreational sales in Oklahoma’s future. Sims fears  recreational marijuana in Oklahoma would open the market to larger companies they just can’t compete against. “I think almost every single one of the mom-and-pop shops would shutter.”

Another issue Sims hopes to address concerns how existing industries will interact with the cannabis industry. “Security people, people that do the tests, people that do the insurance, people that do the real estate—we need a spot to coordinate efforts,” Sims said. 

Sims reached out to cannabis lobbyist Bud Scott and learned he founded his own cannabis lobbying group years ago, New Health Solutions Oklahoma Inc. Already 300 strong, his chamber accounts for about 5 percent of licences. Sims liked Scott and the benefits New Health offered, so she joined another group he was involved in, the Oklahoma Cannabis Industry Association (OCIA) as their Communications Director, which led to her current project: finding funding and a building for the OCIA’s first Tulsa branch. Once they’re established, Sims hopes it will be a place for cannabis entrepreneurs to meet, collaborate and host events for the public.

Sims envisions a strong community of cannabis entrepreneurs in Tulsa, well-organized and able to fully advocate for themselves. But most of all, Oklahoma’s weed industry, a baby in the entrepreneurial world, just needs a mother’s touch. 

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