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Missouri's Medical Cannabis Market is About to Come Online

Medical marijuana is coming to Missouri. After being voted into law last year, the state has been working on getting its market to the people, just as they voted for. Currently, plenty of questions remain about laws and who will get licenses to cultivate, produce and dispense medical marijuana. Missouri’s citizens now stand poised to receive the medicine they deserve and the regulations they voted for. Here is what has been developing in the Show Me State.

Missouri’s Medical Marijuana Momentum

Missouri's legal medical cannabis market began back in December 2018. However, like plenty of other states to roll out its program, sales did not commence on day one. With only a month between the vote and the legalization of medical marijuana, establishing a viable market would be near impossible.

The agency overseeing the medical marketplace, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, laid out a road map to legal sales. This includes accepting applications for patients and businesses as of January 5, 2019. Fees for patients were $25 per year with businesses ranging between $6,000 and $10,000 for the first year, and $10,000 or $25,000 the following years.

During the first month of applications, the state reported receiving over 400 for medical cannabis businesses. That included 226 for dispensaries, 128 for cultivators and 64 for processors. At a minimum, Missouri must open 192 dispensaries, with 24 in each of the state's eight congressional districts.

According to the state Board of Health, the state has generated $3.328 million in application fees as of March 28, 2019.

To qualify for a cannabis business license in Missouri, applicants must meet each of the following ten parameters:

  • "Character, veracity, background, qualifications and relevant experience" of the business's principal owners/managers;
  • Business plan. If the applicant wants a dispensary or grow license, they'll be evaluated on their ability to "maintain an adequate supply of medical marijuana," along with security, drug abuse prevention and "any plan for making medical marijuana available to low-income qualifying patients;"
  • Site security;
  • Experience in a legal cannabis market;
  • For testing licenses only, personnel experience with health care and with "testing marijuana, food or drugs for toxins and/or potency;"
  • Potential positive economic impact on the community surrounding a marijuana business location;
  • For grow operation licenses only, "capacity or experience" in agriculture, horticulture and healthcare;
  • For dispensary licenses only, "capacity or experience" in health care plus the "suitability" of the proposed dispensary location and how accessible it would be for patients;
  • For manufacturing facilities, "capacity or experience" with food/beverage manufacturing;
  • "Maintaining competitiveness in the medical marijuana marketplace."

Despite requests for clarity, the state has yet to elaborate on what “maintaining competitiveness” will entail.

In March, the state posted draft rules for its dispensaries, manufacturing facilities and other medical marijuana establishments. The rules came from the opinions heard at five public forums over a two-month period that winter. In all, 13 pages of regulations were in the draft rules. Highlights include the assigning of facility agent identification cards, with applications beginning February 15, 2020. This has left many wondering if a dispensary or other business could open before this date. Additionally, a company could become vertically integrated, but each facet of the operation must have its own license.

Upon the release of the news, many appeared to suggest that the state was making its laws to generate revenue, not treat patients. "Their job is not to represent the marijuana industry and make sure people are making money on this. Their job is to make sure our health, our safety is protected," Laura Bruce of the Prevention Coalition told Fox 4 Kansas City.

The BoH emphasized that the regulations were not final and subject to change. Currently, its website mentions that rules won't be finalized until June 4, 2019. "Until then, any preliminary efforts being conducted, such as background investigations, will not be accepted," the BoH website added.

The debate continues to rage on between advocates, medical professionals and others in the space. So far, Missouri’s medical cannabis marketplace is shaping up like other states have in the past. That said, all final judgments should be held until its final rules are released in late spring.

Getting Involved in Missouri’s Medical Market

While the rules are yet to be clarified, Missouri looks to be another state that benefits by adding medical marijuana legislation to its books. This is a win-win if enacted correctly. Like Bruce said, it is up to the state to determine laws that benefit the patients first. If it prioritizes the patients, then the profits will follow.

We believe that solventless extraction will find its way into the equation on a commercial and personal scale. While extraction and processing laws await its final ruling, it is likely to assume that solventless extraction will be allowed as a safe and healthy alternative to producing concentrates with solvents.

Those looking to enter the market may want to consider cannabis consulting. Missouri’s market is already filling up. To be sure you’re operation is up to speed, professional cannabis consulting may be the way to go. Contact our team at Pure Cannalabs to find out more.