Missouri’s Medical Cannabis Program Proceeding Apace

By Peter K. Andreone, Hoban Law Group

Missouri’s medical cannabis program prepared to take a giant leap forward this past week: On Tuesday, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) published its finalized rules and regulations to govern the state’s medical marijuana program, as well as official application forms to obtain licensure. Updated drafts of the rules were recently published last month, and can be found at health.mo.gov. The updated drafts provide an instructive preview of what the state’s final regulatory landscape will look like.

Per Missouri law, any business entity pursuing licensure must be majority-owned (51% or more) by residents of Missouri. Despite that requirement, many Missourians are eager to partner with out-of-state operators, as “prior cannabis industry experience” will be a critical factor in grading the applications and awarding licenses. Opportunities abound for out-of-state groups looking to get involved in Missouri’s burgeoning medical marijuana industry. According to New Frontier Data’s projections, Missouri is expected to annually generate about $111 million from medical cannabis sales by 2025.

DHSS has decided to limit the number of licenses awarded during the first year of the program. There will be 338 licenses issued statewide, including 60 cultivation licenses, 192 dispensary licenses, and 86 marijuana-infused products manufacturing licenses. In addition, DHSS has indicated that as many as 10 testing facilities could be licensed by the state. The licensing will be distributed equally among Missouri’s eight congressional districts.

The application process will be highly competitive, especially for the licenses available in the major metro areas of Kansas City and St. Louis. The cities of Springfield, Columbia, Independence, St. Joseph, Joplin, and Jefferson City will also attract much attention. As of May 14, a total of 510 applicants had submitted early forms and fees, including 153 for cultivation facilities, 277 for dispensary facilities, and 80 for cannabis-infused-products manufacturing facilities. Those fees have generated over $3.67 million for the state: A geographic breakdown of pre-filed applications based on congressional district can be found at health.mo.gov.

DHSS will begin accepting completed applications for cultivation, manufacturing, dispensary, and testing facilities on August 3, and will continue to accept applications through the close of business on August 17.  DHSS and its contracted partners have until December 31 to approve or deny applications.

As such, licensed medical cannabis facilities can expect to commence operations in early 2020. To date, there have been no delays in rolling out the program in Missouri, as DHSS has met all mandatory administrative deadlines. Accordingly, the early 2020 commencement date seems realistic.

Peter Andreone has over a decade of experience practicing law in the States of Missouri, Kansas, and Maryland. He serves as Counsel to Hoban Law Group and is the owner and founder of Andreone Law, a full-service civil litigation and transactional law firm based in Kansas City.

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