Last November, Missouri’s efforts to legalize medical marijuana finally paid off as voters approved Amendment 2. Since then, lawmakers have been working diligently to ensure that the laws and regulations surrounding the new industry would be solid and able to be implemented quickly – and based on requirements set in the amendment, they have determined how many business licenses will be awarded this year.
There will be a total of 338 facilities licensed in the medical cannabis industry in Missouri – 192 dispensaries, 60 cultivation facilities and 86 for making marijuana-infused products such as edibles and topicals. This is based on the requirements of one producer and one cultivation license per 70,000 and 100,000 residents, respectively – with 24 dispensaries in each of the state’s eight congressional districts.
“We appreciate and continue to seek the public’s input on how to best implement Article XIV of the Constitution,” said Dr. Randall Williams, DHSS Director. “After careful due diligence based on broad input and other states’ experiences, we are establishing the number of licenses in this first year to be consistent with what is outlined in the Constitution. Moving forward, we will continually reassess to ensure access for patients is adequate.”
To make certain that no one company holds too many licenses, they are capped at 11 – limited at five dispensaries, three manufacturing/processing and three cultivation licenses per company. And to further ensure that only the best applicants are selected there will be a scoring system used to award licenses, with applications available online to prospective cannabis businesses by June 4th. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services will be accepting applications from August 3rd to the 17th, with decisions on licenses happening before December 31st.
“The blind facility application scoring process will ensure that businesses selected for licenses will be those most capable of providing quality service to patients while adhering to the regulations we are implementing,” said Lyndall Fraker, Director of DHSS Section for Medical Marijuana Regulation.
At this time, there could still be changes to the way the scoring system is going to work, as well as what will be required of these businesses to enter the industry and how it will be run. Until May 15th, the state will continue to accept feedback on drafts for rules through an online suggestion form – and all rules will have to be finalized by June 4th when the applications become available.
December may seem like it’s in the distant future, but if licenses are awarded by that time, then Missouri is on the right track for getting things off the ground and getting patients access to medical marijuana by mid-year in 2020 or sooner.