More than 2,000 licensee hopefuls submitted applications to cultivate, manufacture, dispense, or test medical marijuana in Missouri.
Of the 2,163 medical marijuana facility applications received by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), more than 1,200 were submitted in the last three days — and roughly 800 came in the final 24 hours.
“The sky-high interest among Missouri cannabis entrepreneurs did come as a bit of a surprise,” said Andrew Mullins, executive director of the Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association (MoCannTrade). “Our members have spent months creating business plans, lining up investors, purchasing real estate and working diligently to comply with the state’s rightfully rigorous application process.”
The state anticipated the large volume of applications as the deadline approached and extended the submission window by two days.
The state started accepting applications for medical marijuana cultivation, manufacturing, dispensary, and testing facilities on Aug. 3. The initial deadline was set for 11:59 p.m. on Aug. 17, but it was extended until Aug. 19, at 4:30 p.m.
“We greatly appreciate the input and feedback we have received from so many Missourians that have helped us implement Article XIV of the Constitution,” said Dr. Randall Williams, director of DHSS. “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.”
A breakdown of applications by geographical location and facility type will be publicly available in the coming weeks.
The top-scoring 60 cultivation facilities, 192 dispensary facilities, and 86 medical marijuana-infused manufacturing facilities will be initially licensed for business in Missouri.
The limited number of licenses in contrast to the expected number of applicants means there will be winners and losers. But it won’t be the state picking and choosing who is awarded a license and who is denied a license.
The state is using a third-party blind scoring system. More than half a dozen businesses have submitted bids to perform the blind scoring with Wise Health Solutions, a Nevada-based company, coming out on top.
Staff within the medical marijuana division in DHSS will review applications for completeness before sending them out for scoring. Applications must be approved or denied by DHSS within 150 days of the application submission date.
Stakeholders estimated dispensaries will likely open late spring to early summer of 2020.
The department began processing qualified patient and caregiver applications on June 28, roughly a week ahead of the timeline laid out in law. Since then, DHSS has approved more than 6,500 applications.
“I am extremely proud of the team we have built who have been responsible for getting us through this pivotal point for implementing a medical marijuana program for Missourians,” said Lyndall Fraker, director of DHSS Section for Medical Marijuana Regulation. “I am confident that we are developing the best program in the nation, partly through the help of so many collaborative citizens, and the astounding number of applications we received represents the level of interest and enthusiasm from people who want to be a part of this with us.”
Alisha Shurr is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine. She joined the Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University. Contact Alisha at email@example.com.