In a historic show of support, Missouri voters overwhelmingly approved the passage of medical marijuana. The law – “Right to Access Medical Marijuana” – became effective on December 6, 2018The aim of this article and website is to provide an educational service to Missouri citizens as they seek to wade through the weeds of the how, what, who, when, and why of cannabis.

So, let’s begin with the law. The Missouri Constitution has been amended to add Article XVI. It is packed with details. I’ll try to distill the most important parts.

What is it?

A law that allows patients to obtain access to medical marijuana. It also creates a regulatory regime for the licensing, cultivation, production, distribution, transportation, and sale of medical marijuana within the state of Missouri.

Who can use medical marijuana?

The law was created for Missouri residents who have a diagnosed qualifying medical condition.

What is a Qualifying Medical Condition?

There are many. A qualifying medical condition is a defined term that means, “the condition of, symptoms related to, or side-effects from the treatment of:

  • Cancer;
  • Epilepsy;
  • Glaucoma;
  • Intractable migraines unresponsive to other treatment;
  • A chronic medical condition that causes severe, persistent pain or persistent muscle spasms, including but not limited to those associated with multiple sclerosis, seizures, Parkinson’s disease, and Tourette’s syndrome;
  • Debilitating psychiatric disorders, including, but not limited to, post-traumatic stress disorder, if diagnosed by a state licensed psychiatrist;
  • Human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome;
  • A chronic medical condition that is normally treated with a prescription medication that could lead to physical or psychological dependence, when a physician determines that medical use of marijuana could be effective in treating that condition and would serve as a safer alternative to the prescription medication;
  • Any terminal illness; or
  • In the professional judgment of a physician, any other chronic, debilitating or other medical condition, including, but not limited to, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, Huntington’s disease, autism, neuropathies, sickle cell anemia, agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, cachexia, and wasting syndrome.”

How do you get a diagnosis for a qualifying medical condition?

Go see your primary care physician. Your physician must be licensed and in good standing to practice medicine or osteopathy under Missouri law (e.g., M.D. or D.O.). The physician must sign a certification stating that in his/her professional opinion, the patient suffers from a qualifying medical condition. Patients will be required to renew their physician certification on an annual basis. Over the next several months, a system will be implemented to further specify the process and requirements for obtaining a physician certification.

Who is in charge of creating and enforcing the rules, procedures, licensing and the administration of this law?

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. Over the course of the coming months, the Department will start rolling out the rules and regulations for obtaining applications and licenses. We will explain each detail here, and we will continue to keep you updated as new procedures are implemented.

How do you get marijuana if you are a patient?

A qualified patient must obtain an identification card (for a fee of $25/year). By June 4, 2019, the Department will make available to the public application forms and instructions for obtaining the identification card. By July 4, 2019, the Department will begin accepting applications to obtain identification cards. The application must include a physician certification that is less than 30 days old. The Department will have 30 days from the date the application is received to either deny or approve the application. If the Department fails to deny and fails to issue the card, then the physician certification shall serve as their identification card for up to one year from the date of the physician certification. In theory, this means that the first authorized use of medicinal marijuana may begin by August 3, 2019. Once identification cards are issued, qualified patients will be able to buy marijuana directly from dispensaries, or grow up to 6 plants on their own, subject to various limits, restrictions and fees (including a $100 annual cultivation fee).

May I use medical marijuana in public?

No. The law prohibits the consumption of marijuana in a public place.

What’s a primary caregiver?

A primary caregiver is an individual 21 years of age or older who has significant responsibility for managing the well-being of a qualifying patient and who is designated as such on the primary caregiver’s application for an identification card. Like patients, the primary caregiver will be required to apply for an application card and pay a $25 annual fee. Once a primary caregiver obtains an identification card, the caregiver is granted the rights to purchase, transport, and administer marijuana to a qualifying patient, as well as perform cultivation of up to six flowering plants per patient for the patient’s exclusive use.

Where will the marijuana come from?

Good news: All marijuana sold in Missouri must be grown in Missouri. The law sets forth a regulatory structure for the cultivation, distribution, and sale of marijuana. It is broken down into three primary categories: (1) Medical Marijuana Cultivation Facilities; (2) Medical Marijuana-Infused Products Manufacturing Facilities; and (3) Medical Marijuana Dispensary Facilities. These three bodies, so to speak, will be responsible for the overall cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, and sale of marijuana throughout Missouri. In order to cultivate, manufacture, or sell marijuana, an entity must go through a complicated, expensive, and arduous application process, and thereafter, if approved, obtain a license.

In addition to these three bodies, there will also be Medical Marijuana Testing Facilities, which will be charged with testing and certifying that all marijuana grown and sold in Missouri is of a desirable quality.

What is a Medical Marijuana Cultivation Facility?

This is the lifeblood of medical marijuana cultivation in Missouri since all marijuana sold in Missouri must be grown in Missouri – through medical marijuana cultivation facilities. The law therefore is entirely dependent on Missouri residents and entrepreneurs to be the producers of marijuana. The law sets forth a strict application and licensing process. Once awarded a license, the entity will have the right to acquire, cultivate, process, store, transport and sell marijuana to a medical marijuana dispensary facility, a medical marijuana testing facility or to a medical marijuana-infused products manufacturing facility.

How do I obtain a Medical Marijuana Cultivation Facility License?

The Department is in charge of issuing licenses, and in the coming months, it will publish instructions and rules to apply for a license. At a minimum, the Department will issue one cultivation license for every 100,000 inhabitants. Missouri has approximately 6.1 million inhabitants. That means, based on demand, there will likely be at least 61 cultivation licenses up for grabs. This will be a highly competitive and expensive process. Having the necessary business plan, finances, consultants, and legal team will be vital for your success in being awarded a license. The Department will start accepting applications on or before August 3, 2019. But to get a jump start, any applicant may pre-file their application fee by January 5, 2019.

How much does it cost to apply for a Medical Marijuana Cultivation License?

The Department will charge each applicant a non-refundable fee of $10,000 per license application. If awarded, the license will be valid for three years and must be renewed every three years at a cost of $5,000. Additionally, the Department will charge each licensee an annual fee of $25,000 per facility license.

What does the license allow you to do?

A cultivation license is the holy grail for marijuana production. The license grants an entity the right to cultivate and distribute marijuana in Missouri. There are three types of facilities that may be utilized: (1) an indoor facility utilizing artificial light, which the Department may limit to thirty thousand square feet of flowering plant canopy space; (2) an outdoor facility utilizing natural light, which the Department may limit the production to 2,800 flowering plants; or (3) a greenhouse facility using a combination of natural and artificial lighting, which the Department may limit, at the election of the licensee, to 2,800 flowering plants or thirty thousand square feet of flowering plant canopy. An entity may apply for and obtain one or more licenses, and multiple licenses may be used by a single facility. However, no more than three licenses will be issued to an entity under substantially common control, ownership, or management. The law also requires licensees to abide by strict security measures.

What is a Medical Marijuana-Infused Products Manufacturing Facility?

This is a facility that, once awarded a license, obtains the right to acquire, store, manufacture, transport, and sell marijuana-infused products to dispensaries or to other facilities. Marijuana-infused products include, as an example, edibles, ointments, tinctures and concentrates. They are intended for use or consumption other than by smoking. This type of licensee will need to contract with cultivation facilities in order to obtain marijuana to manufacture marijuana-infused products and then contract with dispensaries to sell the product.

How do I obtain a Medical Marijuana-Infused Products Manufacturing Facility License?

The Department is in charge of issuing licenses, and in the coming months, it will publish instructions and rules to apply for a license. At a minimum, the Department will issue one marijuana-infused manufacturing license for every 70,000 inhabitants. Missouri has approximately 6.1 million inhabitants. That means, based on demand, there will likely be at least 87 marijuana-infused manufacturing licenses up for grabs. This will be a highly competitive and expensive process. Having the necessary business plan, finances, consultants, and legal team will be vital for your success in being awarded a license. The Department will start accepting applications on or before August 3, 2019. But to get a jump start, any applicant may pre-file their application fee by January 5, 2019.

How much does it cost to apply for a Medical Marijuana-Infused Products Manufacturing Facility License?

The Department will charge each applicant a non-refundable fee of $6,000 per license application. If awarded, the license will be valid for three years and must be renewed every three years at a cost of $3,0000. Additionally, the Department will charge each licensee an annual fee of $10,000 per facility license.

What does the Medical Marijuana-Infused Products Manufacturing Facility License allow you to do?

A marijuana-infused manufacturing license is the essential ingredient for creating marijuana-infused products. The license grants an entity the right to manufacture and distribute marijuana-infused products to dispensaries. The Department has not yet published the rules and regulations relating to the facility requirements. An entity may apply for and obtain one or more licenses, and each facility in operation shall require a separate license. No more than three licenses will be issued to an entity under substantially common control, ownership, or management. The law also requires licensees to abide by strict security measures.

What is a Medical Marijuana Dispensary Facility?

This is where patients will purchase medical marijuana and paraphernalia. The classic dispensary, in other words. The law sets forth a strict application and licensing process to obtain a license to open a dispensary and sell medical marijuana to patients. Once awarded a license, the licensee will have the right to acquire, store, transport, sell and deliver marijuana to patients and other licensees.

How do I obtain a Medical Marijuana Dispensary Facility License?

The Department is in charge of issuing licenses, and in the coming months, it will publish instructions to apply for a license. At a minimum, the Department will issue 24 licenses in each US Congressional district in the state of Missouri. There are 8 congressional districts and thus there is the potential for 192 dispensaries throughout the State. This will be a highly competitive and expensive process. Having the necessary business plan, finances, consultants, and legal team will be vital for your success in being awarded a license. The Department will start accepting applications on or before August 3, 2019. But to get a jump start, any applicant may pre-file their application fee by January 5, 2019.

How much does it cost to apply for a Medical Marijuana Dispensary Facility License?

The Department will charge each applicant a non-refundable fee of $6,000 per license application. If awarded, the license will be valid for three years and must be renewed every three years at a cost of $3,0000. Additionally, the Department will charge each licensee an annual fee of $10,000 per facility license.

What does the license allow you to do?

A dispensary facility license is the key to buying and selling marijuana. The license grants an entity the right to acquire, sell and deliver marijuana to patients. An entity may apply for and obtain one or more licenses. However, no more than five licenses will be issued to an entity under substantially common control, ownership, or management. The law also requires licensees to abide by strict security measures.

How do I apply for a license?

By June 4, 2019, the Department will make available to the public license application forms and application instructions to obtain cultivation, marijuana-infused, and dispensary licenses. Completing an application will be long, detailed and complicated. Having an experienced legal team advising you through the process will be essential for your success. By way of example, the application process will include an extensive criminal background check and a full accounting of all assets and properties owned by applicants. It will also require a detailed business plan, including the identity of properties owned to open the facility, personnel and employees, site security, experience in the marijuana industry, and the financial wherewithal to support and maintain a thriving business.

When can an entity (e.g., individual) apply for a license?

The Department will begin accepting applications on or before August 3, 2019. Applications will be approved or denied by the Department no later than 150 days after their submission. This means, in theory, the first licenses may be awarded by December 31, 2019. Could you imagine being the first Missouri resident awarded a license to cultivate marijuana, or the first person to open a dispensary? The time is now. In fact, any applicant for a license (i.e., cultivation, marijuana-infused, and dispensary licenses) may pre-file their application fee by January 5, 2019. This may give you a head start in the race.

What factors will the Department consider in awarding a license?

For all three types of licenses (i.e., cultivation, marijuana-infused production and dispensaries), the Department will consider a variety of factors. The Department is charged with establishing a system to numerically score competing applicants, assuming the number of applicants exceed the number of licenses available (which it undoubtedly will since it will be a highly competitive market). The non-exhaustive factors include the following:

  • The character, veracity, background, qualifications, and relevant experience of principal officers or managers;
  • The business plan proposed by the applicant, which in the case of cultivation facilities and dispensaries shall include the ability to maintain an adequate supply of marijuana, plans to ensure safety and security of qualifying patients and the community, procedures to be used to prevent diversion, and any plan for making marijuana available to low-income qualifying patients:
  • Site security;
  • Experience in a legal cannabis market:
  • In the case of medical marijuana testing facilities, the experience of their personnel with testing marijuana, food or drugs for toxins and/or potency and health care industry experience;
  • The potential for positive economic impact in the site community;
  • In the case of medical marijuana cultivation facilities, capacity or experience with agriculture, horticulture, and health care;
  • In the case of medical marijuana dispensary facilities, capacity or experience with health care, the suitability of the proposed location, and its accessibility for patients:
  • In the case of medical marijuana-infused products manufacturing facilities, capacity or experience with food and beverage manufacturing; and
  • Maintaining competitiveness in the marijuana for medical use marketplace.

What is a Medical Marijuana Testing Facility?

This is a facility certified by the Department to acquire, test, certify and transport marijuana. The Department will certify at least two entities as medical marijuana testing facilities. They will act as the independent testers to ensure all marijuana grown and sold in Missouri is safe for human consumption. Over the coming months, the Department will issue rules regarding the testing requirements of marijuana, including requirements for equipment and qualification for personnel. Applying to become one of the two testing facilities in Missouri will follow a similar application process as other applicants.

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That is the skinny on Missouri’s new marijuana law. We will provide regular updates as the Department makes information available. In the meantime, we will spend the coming weeks diving into various aspects of the law, including some of the miscellaneous items that we didn’t get to cover in this post.