If you’re looking to get into the new medical marijuana industry in Missouri, you should start planning now.
A limited number of licenses are available for marijuana facilities, and applications will be available beginning in August. But the cost to apply is fairly steep — $6,000 or $10,000, depending on the facility — and proof of ample capital to invest is mandatory.
Under finalized Department of Health and Senior Services rules as they stand now, the timeline looks like this:
- On June 28, the DHSS will begin accepting applications from patients for medical marijuana ID cards. The department announced Friday that it was ready to begin the process six days earlier than the original July 4 deadline.
- On Aug. 3, the DHSS will begin accepting applications for medical marijuana facility licenses.
- Dec. 31 is the deadline for the DHSS to approve facility licenses.
Three types of medical marijuana licenses are available — one for a cultivation facility, another for a medical marijuana dispensary and the third for infused-product manufacturing. Marijuana-infused products include oils, edibles and other items, according to Jack Cardetti, a representative of the Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association.
Currently, the medical marijuana rules allow licenses for 192 dispensaries, 86 infused-product facilities and 60 cultivation facilities. These will be dispersed in eight regions based on Missouri’s congressional district map.
If you want to get into the marijuana industry, “the first thing you need to do is get your business plan together,” Cardetti said.
Those submitting an application must pay a non-refundable fee of $6,000 for a medical marijuana dispensary or infused-product license and $10,000 for a cultivation facility license, according to the final DHSS rules. An application with well over 100 questions is also required, and it will be scored as part of a decision about who gets a license.
In addition to the non-refundable fee for submitting an application, the questionnaire asks for proof of $150,000 in liquid capital to apply for a dispensary or infused-product facility and $300,000 in liquid capital for a cultivation facility.
Vertical integration is an option, Cardetti said, which means an applicant can seek more than one license. A person can have up to three cultivation facility licenses, three infused-product licenses and five dispensary licenses.
Because marijuana is still illegal under federal statutes, many banks are reluctant to offer loans for a medical marijuana business, though it’s possible to get loans from private individuals, said Dan Viets, an attorney and representative of MidMo NORML.
According to George Nolen of MOGreens Wellness, approved patients will be able to grow medical marijuana for their own use as early as this summer. They must fund their own cultivation card and pay a fee of $100.
Medical marijuana card holders will be allowed to grow up to 18 plants. Six of the plants can be flowering, while the remaining 12 must be at different stages of non-flowering development. This is to ensure that medical marijuana patients have year-round access to medical marijuana.
About dispensaries and infused-product facilities
Each of the eight congressional districts in Missouri can be allocated up to 24 dispensaries.
Once a license is granted and a dispensary opens for business, patients and caregivers will be required to enter through a single access point where they will be checked for eligibility. Only patients and primary caregivers will be allowed past this access point, with the exception of two additional individuals to support the patient upon request.
Among other things, the rules also indicate that facilities must provide security to deter potential theft, as well as procedures for verifying patient identity and medical marijuana purchase limits, plus knowledge of the effectiveness of different strains of marijuana and potential abuse of medical marijuana by patients.
Dispensaries also are forbidden to allow transactions with any third party. All transactions must take place directly with a qualifying patient or primary caregiver.
Infused-product facilities are required to implement an odor-control system, along with other safety provisions. They can only transport their products to a dispensary, testing facility or another manufacturing facility.
About cultivation facilities
An indoor cultivation facility is limited to 30,000 square feet and 2,800 flowering plants, according to Nolen.
Medical marijuana facilities are likely to be either indoors or in greenhouses where the environment can be controlled, he said. This will also allow marijuana to be grown and harvested all year.
Acquiring seeds will be on a strict don’t-ask-don’t tell-basis as far as the federal government is concerned, Nolen said. Since marijuana is still a Schedule I drug, it is illegal to transport marijuana, even seeds, across state lines.
Most seeds will be acquired through a seed bank in other states, Nolen said.