Health officials in Missouri are considering a proposal of a ban on medical cannabis companies that would no longer allow these companies to pay taxes, fees and penalties in cash. The ban has been proposed by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) and would impact the way all legal cannabis businesses – which are currently expected to create 4,000 jobs and generate $500 million in revenue – pay their taxes in Missouri. The reason for the proposed ban, state lawmakers say, is because officials are concerned about the challenges and safety issues that could present themselves to state agencies.
“We know that large amounts of cash-handling will create challenges for state agencies and may create safety issues for medical marijuana facility employees. As we have done with all of our rules, we have put this out for public comment in order to hear from the public whether they have concerns with this proposal and, if so, what they are. The emergency rule has not been filed, and we will consider all comments we receive before determining whether to file it,” Missouri DHSS spokesperson Lisa Cox said in a statement to 41 Action News, KSHB Kansas City.
There has been no timeline provided by the DHSS as to when a decision would be made on the cash ban. Anyone even remotely familiar with the current state of cash-only legal cannabis businesses understand the safety concerns and banking challenges that are faced by industry professionals. Isn’t it curious how these state officials are all of a sudden concerned about handling large amounts of cash, now that it could impact them?
Due to the continued prohibition of cannabis at the federal level, a large number – if not the vast majority – of legal cannabis business owners find it difficult or impossible to open accounts at banks and financial institutions. The Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act of 2019 (H.R. 1595), also known as the SAFE Banking Act, was recently passed by the House of Representatives in September and is awaiting a vote from the Senate. The legislation would prevent federal regulators from penalizing financial institutions that choose to offer accounts to licensed cannabis businesses.
Missouri has reportedly received over 2,000 applications for licenses to operate medical cannabis businesses – 1,163 for dispensaries and 554 for cultivation facilities. The state plans to hand out 192 licenses for dispensaries and 60 for cultivation facilities. Should this ban eventually take effect, it would create some challenges for these medical cannabis businesses.