Director says medical marijuana could be in dispensaries this fall

Medical marijuana could be available in dispensaries this fall, now that two cultivation facilities passed inspection and have been certified to begin growing plants in Missouri.

One cultivation facility near St. Louis and another in Perryville were allowed to legally plant crops in mid-June, the first businesses in the state to gain official approval.

“If you do the math, 90 days from those time frames, you are looking at September and October,” said Lyndall Fraker, director of Missouri’s medical marijuana program.

“That’s when I think you will be seeing quite a few dispensaries ready to sell product.”

“We are going to have more licensed facilities than any other state except Oklahoma; a lot of people don’t realize that,” he added. “We should have plenty of product out there to allow people to get a good price on it based on supply and demand.”

Approved patients

Two-thirds of Missourians voted to legalize medical marijuana under Amendment 2 in November 2018.

In the last year, the state has received applications from 60,054 medical marijuana patients, according to the Department of Health and Senior Services, an increase of more than 30,000 since January.

Of the total applications received, 54,784 patients have been approved, according to the department.

Last month, DHSS announced it was launching an investigation into the use of unauthorized physician signatures for 600 of the approved medical marijuana applications.

State officials have said there is no evidence to indicate the affected patients were aware the physician was not authorized, but the physician certification was still not valid. Patients were given 30 days to submit a valid certification before the license would be revoked.

DHSS has referred the case to the Attorney General’s Office and to the Missouri Board of Healing Arts for further investigation.

Earlier this year, the state also received at least 2,200 applications for 192 dispensary, 60 cultivation and 86 processing licenses.

At least 800 appeals have been filed by companies that were denied licenses to cultivate, sell or manufacture marijuana products.

The lawsuits claim scoring discrepancies and potential conflicts of interest occurred in the process of awarding the medical marijuana licenses.

According to DHSS, two appeals have been settled. As a result, one new medical marijuana testing facility was to be issued a license and an existing medical marijuana dispensary license would be exchanged for a new dispensary license.

The department claims that both were related to administrative issues, not scoring concerns.

The state legislature has also weighed in on medical marijuana regulations.

In March, the legislature took action to make it a felony for a state agency or employee to disclose to the federal government or unauthorized third party any information about those who applied for or obtained a medical marijuana card.

Under the bill, HB 1896, anyone who works for a licensed medical marijuana facility must undergo a criminal background check.

In addition, the act prohibits the sale of any edible marijuana product designed to appeal to those under 18. That includes candies, gummies, lollipops, cotton candy, or products in the shape of a human, animal or fruit.

The governor has yet to sign the bill into law.

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