In November 2018, 65% of Missouri voters approved a ballot measure to legalize medicinal cannabis. While many had hoped that sales would begin this summer, it appears medicinal marijuana will not be available in Missouri until late summer 2020, at the earliest. This is due to many factors, including a labored application process and the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Missouri’s medical program is overseen by the Section for Medical Marijuana Regulation (SMMR), which limited the number of licenses and certifications it will currently issue to 60 cultivation licenses, 86 infused-product manufacturing licenses, 192 dispensary licenses and 10 laboratory testing certifications. There have been legislative efforts to remove these much-criticized caps, but so far, they have failed. There is no limit on transportation or seed-to-sale certifications.
In 2019, the SMMR received more than 2,270 facility applications and reviewed them using a blind scoring process. Critics of the review process decry the application’s subjective and inconsistently applied criteria, and denied applicants have filed more than 800 legal challenges. Nevertheless, between December 2019 and January 2020, the Missouri Department of Health issued all allotted licenses and certifications for medical marijuana facilities. This means that until additional certifications or licenses become available, applications are closed for facilities other than transportation or seed-to-sale.
The licensed and/or certified facilities must now pass a commencement inspection before they can begin operations. The SMMR requires facilities to be meet all state and local requirements and request an inspection within one month of being ready to begin operations. Facilities must do this within one year of receiving their license/certification or risk the SMMR revoking it. As of June 2020, few facilities had requested or received approval for operation. Importantly, no dispensary or testing facility has requested an inspection, which is needed for sales to begin.
When medicinal marijuana is available, consumers will need a patient ID card to purchase it. These sales will include a 4% tax for the Missouri Veteran’s Health and Care fund. The cards are available to anyone with a qualifying medical condition. To receive a card, the patient must receive a physician certification of their qualifying condition(s) and then apply for a patient identification card within 30 days. While the government had anticipated 26,000 applications by 2022, more than 60,000 Missourians have applied for medical marijuana ID cards as of July 2020.
Zac Parker and Katie Gates Calderon | Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP
Zac Parker is an associate at Shook, Hardy & Bacon. He focuses on product liability matters and is part of the firm’s team working on Engle-Progeny litigation and pharmaceutical litigation.
Katie Gates Calderon is the founding co-chair of Shook, Hardy & Bacon’s Cannabis Law Practice Group. She focuses on defending corporations in a variety of matters.