Missouri voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative last year to legalize medical marijuana. Now the state is overwhelmed with interest from would-be business owners who are eager to capitalize on the new law.
Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services said that it received roughly 2,100 applications by the Monday afternoon deadline for medical cannabis facility licenses. By the end of this year, state regulators will winnow that pool of applicants down to just 348 license winners, 192 of which will be for dispensaries, 86 for manufacturing facilities, 60 for cultivation facilities and ten for testing labs.
The state began accepting applications on August 3, with a deadline originally set for August 17. But last week, the Missouri DHSS announced that it would be extending its deadline until Monday afternoon.
“We are expecting a large volume of applications to be submitted during a short window of time,” said Dr. Randall Williams, director of the state DHSS, said in a statement last Thursday. “Hundreds of people pre-filed non-refundable fees, and we haven’t received their official applications just yet. We want to ensure all of our applicants receive excellent customer service.”
He was proven correct. On Monday, the Missouri DHSS said that it received more than 1,200 applications in the last three days of the application period, including more than 800 in the final 24 hours.
In addition to the more than 2,000 applications for medical marijuana facilities, the state has already approved more than 6,500 applications for qualified patients and caregivers.
Missouri voters cleared the way for medical marijuana in the state last November, when they passed Amendment 2 by a 66%-34% margin. The law was enshrined in the state’s constitution under Article XVI, which required Missouri regulators to accept applications for patients no later than June 4, and for dispensaries no later than August 3.
From here, the applications for medical cannabis facilities will be reviewed by a third-party blind scorer. All applications will be “stripped of any identifying information,” the DHSS said. The state has until the end of the year to complete its review of the applications and make a determination on who is accepted or denied.
“We greatly appreciate the input and feedback we have received from so many Missourians that have helped us implement Article XVI of the Constitution,” Williams said in a statement on Monday.
“While our main goals have always been putting patients first and maintaining integrity of the program, we also think this exemplifies good governance in implementing a complex initiative passed by the overwhelming majority of Missouri voters.”