Category: Blog , Compliance , Licensing , News , Operations

How to Apply for a Missouri Dispensary License

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After voters approved a state-wide medical marijuana program in 2018, Missouri has been slow to get the program off the ground. Though more than 50,000 patients in the state are licensed to purchase medical marijuana, cultivators don’t expect their products to reach Missouri dispensary shelves until late 2020. As of this writing, only two licensed growing and cultivation companies reached final approved to start growing out of the 60 companies that received medical marijuana cultivation licenses. Regulators also awarded 192 dispensary and 86 processing licenses--- though more than 800 applications were filed.

Background

Missouri voters approved medical marijuana in late 2018. By August 2019, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services began accepting applications for cultivation, manufacturing, testing, retail, seed to sale, infused products, and transportation. The application window lasted just over two weeks. Missouri began announcing license winners in late 2019. The state announced dispensary license winners in late January of 2020. Currently, the state is not accepting new applications, and they have not announced when they will accept new applications. To find the necessary applications and forms to apply to open a Missouri dispensary, visit the Missouri DHSS website

Issues and Challenges

Like many other states, Missouri’s roll out of the application process for medical marijuana businesses got off to a rough start. Applicants complained that the process was unfair to local applicants after many licenses went to Multi-State Operators (MSOs). Allegations of corruption and favoritism are also rampant. One group of applicants that failed to win licenses are suing the Missouri DHSS and seeking a stop to the licensing process.

It isn't easy for companies that did win licenses, either. Cultivation licensees found additional steps in approval to launch growing operations in the state. Since cultivation is held up, all other aspects of Missouri’s medical marijuana program are also delayed. Dispensaries in the state cannot open without product on their shelves! Cultivators hope to have their first crop ready for Missouri dispensaries by late fall or the end of 2020.  

Requirements for Missouri Dispensary Licenses   

In addition to paying a $6,000 non-refundable application fee and a $10,000 yearly fee, here are some of the major requirements for obtaining a dispensary license in Missouri: 

  1. Background check of licensee and three manager-level employees
  2. A detailed business plan
  3. Site security plan for employees and the community in which the dispensary serves
  4. Previous experience in a medical marijuana state
  5. Economic Impact report: applicants must show how their business will impact the community i.e. jobs
  6. Previous experience in healthcare of healthcare access
  7. Must have lived in Missouri for at least one year

Currently, Missouri’s medical marijuana programs do not contain social equity programs. In fact, DHSS specifically removed any mention of race in the application process.

METRC

Missouri dispensaries and cannabusinesses must adhere to the METRC (Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting & Compliance) system to remain compliant. It is important that Missouri dispensaries find a METRC integrated technical system. IndicaOnline’s point-of-sale system is integrated with METRC so dispensary owners can better navigate the sometimes confusing aspects of tracking inventory. IndicaOnline updates inventory in real time and makes reporting easy. METRC is offering training programs to better understand the track and trace system. 

Looking Ahead

Missouri predicted 20,000 licensed medical marijuana patients by the end of 2021. That number is already over 50,000--- even without medical marijuana available for purchase in the state! Because of the increased demand, it’s not a matter of if Missouri will open a new round of cannabis business applications, but when. Though the state has not given any indication on when that might be, they did say they will give months notice in advance on when they plan on opening the application process for the second time. Keep up to date by checking the Missouri DHSS website and our blog for more news regarding the Missouri medical marijuana program.  

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