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DHSS releases breakdown of those vying for limited medical marijuana licenses


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Nearly 1,200 individuals are vying to be one of nearly 200 to be granted a license to open a medical marijuana dispensary in Missouri.

On Tuesday, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) released the breakdown of the 2,163 facility applications seeking to cultivate, manufacture, dispense, or test the newly legalized substance. 

In total, the state received 554 applications for cultivation facilities, 1,163 for dispensary facilities, 415 for manufacturing facilities, 17 for testing facilities, and 14 for transportation facilities. Only the top-scoring 60 cultivation facilities, 192 dispensary facilities, and 86 medical marijuana-infused manufacturing facilities will be initially licensed for business in Missouri.

“We greatly appreciate the support exemplified by the exceptionally large number of applicants for implementation of Article XIV which will provide medical marijuana to qualified patients and raise funds to serve our veterans,” said Randall Williams, director of DHSS. “However, this resulted in a large number of applications being received in a short window of time and we have determined that all of those who started an application as of 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 19, will be part of the overall pool to be reviewed for licensure.”

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.

Following the facility application deadline, DHSS said it received claims from some facility applicants who experienced technical difficulties during the application process and were unable to submit applications due to these difficulties.

The state said each claim was reviewed as a request for a waiver of the facility application deadline. Twenty requests for waivers were denied and 109 waivers were granted — allowing the affected applications to be submitted — by DHSS.

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.

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.

Additional information about the applications received, such as applicant names and facility locations, will be released in the coming weeks. 

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 8,300 applications.