JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — In the month following the deadline to apply for a medical marijuana facility license, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has “completed initial processing” on more than a quarter of the applications received.
In a roughly two week period, 2,163 hopefuls filed the paperwork to cultivate, manufacture, dispense, or test the newly-legalized substance in the Show-Me State.
Now, DHSS has the task of reviewing each application to ensure all the necessary information is completed before they are forwarded to the third-party blind scorer. When the department came across missing information, it initially rejected the application and gave the applicant seven days to correct the errors.
“Having the seven days to get that done is appreciated,” Jack Cardetti, a spokesperson with the Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association (MoCannTrade), told The Missouri Times. “As with all other stages of the process, the department has been very thoughtful.”
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.
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.
“We have completed initial processing on just over a quarter of the applications received and, as reflected in our scoring contract, will continue to hand over batches of applications for scoring once they are ready for that stage in the process,” a spokesperson at DHSS told The Missouri Times. “The scoring contract provides that all application scores should be returned to DHSS by November 30.”
Per the constitutional amendment passed by voters in 2018, applications must be approved or denied within 150 days of submission.
“The other very exciting thing to see is the number of patients applying for medical marijuana card,” said Cardetti.
As of Sept. 18, DHSS has approved 10,810 of the 12,499 applications received for medical marijuana cards — 12,180 patients and 319 caregivers.
“Much as we’d like to say this comes as a surprise, the new data is consistent with both our early projections and the intense interest we see and hear among Missourians each day,” Andrew Mullins, executive director of MoCannTrade, said in a statement earlier this month.
Cardetti predicted the interest would continue, particularly when dispensaries are up and running next year.
A team of University of Missouri economists estimated earlier this year that by 2022 just 26,000 patients would enroll in the state program. The group which backed the ballot measure, New Approach Missouri, originally estimated 1.5 percent to 2 percent of Missourians, roughly 120,000 people, would hold patient cards.
Alisha Shurr was a reporter for The Missouri Times and The 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.