PROMO Miscellaneous - Marijuana Drugs Dollar Money - iStock - pcess609

Three men indicted in connection with illegal Oklahoma medical marijuana scheme

© iStock - pcess609
Kim Jarrett

(The Center Square) - Three men are facing a long list of charges connected with a scheme to illegally grow medical marijuana, Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond said Monday.

Richard Gregorio Ignacio, 36, is accused of being a front for a medical marijuana operation in Kingfisher County, according to a news release. 

The two men who are accused of paying Ignacio, Kevin Paul Pham, 47, and Alex Shiang Lin Chang, 48, were bypassing a law that prohibits anyone from out-of-state from growing medical marijuana in Oklahoma. 

The three men are charged with conspiracy against the state. Pham is also indicted on six counts of filing a false or forged instrument, one count of aggravated manufacturing of a controlled dangerous substance, one count of trafficking of a controlled dangerous substance over 20 grams of methamphetamine, one count of possession of a controlled dangerous substance with the intent to distribute, one count of financial transactions involving proceeds of unlawful acts and one count of possession of a firearm after former conviction of a felony, according to Drummond's office. Ignacio also faces six counts of filing a false or forged instrument, and one count of aggravated manufacturing of a controlled dangerous substance. 

Ignacio was charged in December 2022 with conspiracy against the state for allegedly illegally obtaining a marijuana grow license in Kingfisher County for a company named Liu and Chen. 

“We cannot and will not tolerate these illegal enterprises enriching themselves at the expense of rural Oklahoma,” Drummond said. “While there are many law-abiding participants in the state’s medical marijuana industry, law enforcement has seen an influx of others who are using the situation to supply black-market marijuana throughout the country."

Legislators passed several bills over the past two years to further regulate the medical marijuana industry. A bill passed in 2022 placed a moratorium on all medical marijuana licenses until August 2024. 

House Bill 2096 passed earlier this year extended the moratorium until 2026. The bill also revoked the licenses of growers who did not pay their retail taxes and banned growers from hiring illegal immigrants. 

Only one owner can be listed for a medical marijuana grow, the bill said.