Where do you fit in and how will it work?
In Nov. 2018, Missouri became the 33rd state to legalize medical marijuana after 65% of voters approved Amendment 2, the most popular of three medical marijuana ballot initiatives. In accordance with Amendment 2, sales tax revenue generated and fees collected under the new program will go toward regulating the industry and the newly created Missouri Veterans’ Health and Care Fund.
The Missouri Department of Health and Human Services has been charged with implementing the program that’s already received a great deal of individual and business interest.
Here is some of what you need to know if you’re interested in taking advantage of the new law.
WHAT’S LEGAL UNDER THE LAW?
The new law legalizes the use of up to four ounces of marijuana for qualified patients. Additionally, individuals can have up to a 60-day supply in their residence. Patients can purchase marijuana from state-licensed dispensaries.
If you plan to grow weed in Missouri, you can only do so if you have a marijuana identification card. Medical patients will be allowed to grow up to six flowering plants, “in an appropriately secured facility.”
Missouri allows the use of Medical CBD for those with intractable epilepsy. The medical CBD program defines the use of twenty ounces of high CBD cannabis extracts with no more than .03 of one percent of THC as legal for patients.
HOW CAN AN INDIVIDUAL BUY MEDICAL MARIJUANA?
First off, even though the law passed in November, it still is not legal to possess marijuana in Missouri. While the Department understands that Missourians are anticipating this form of therapy, Amendment 2 requires a series of steps be executed before medical marijuana is made available.
Amendment 2 permits state-licensed physicians to recommend marijuana for medical purposes to patients with serious illnesses and medical conditions. Medical conditions that qualify for a marijuana identification card include:
• 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.
If I have a qualifying condition, how do I apply?
Step one is to visit a state-licensed physician (not a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant) to obtain a physician certification. The next step is to apply for an identification card from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
An application form is being developed and will be available online no later than June 4, 2019. However, don’t be in too big of a hurry to get your physician certification, they must be no more than 30 days old when you apply. So with applications not being accepted more until July 4, make sure not to get your physician certification before June 4.
DHSS would like to remind the public that any physician certifications they receive for medical marijuana must be no more than thirty days old at the time an individual applies for a patient identification card, and DHSS will not begin accepting patient identification card applications until July 4, 2019.
Any physician certification you receive for medical marijuana must be no more than thirty days old at the time you apply for a patient identification card, and DHSS will not begin accepting patient identification cards until July 4, 2019.
The fee to apply for the card is $25.
DHSS has committed to approve or deny applications within 30 days. Once your application is approved and you receive your identification card allowing you to purchase medical marijuana from a state-licensed dispensary.
Medical Marijuana Dispensaries, Cultivation and Manufacturing
Even though you may have a card to purchase medical marijuana as early as August 1, there won’t be any place to legally buy it. The Department won’t begin accepting applications for cultivation, manufacturing, and dispensing facilities until Aug. 3, 2019 with the expectation of medical marijuana sales beginning in early 2020.
Missouri’s Congressional districts. They will also issue 61 cultivation licenses and 82 infused-product manufacturer licenses. In January, the state began taking pre-filed application forms and fees and as of March 11, they have already received 4262 applications: 139 for cultivation, and 262 for dispensary facilities, and 71 for medical marijuana-infused manufacturing facilities. The largest number, 63, are in District 5, which covers core Kansas City. District 1 and 2, which cover most of the St. Louis Metropolitan area, combine for 55 applications.
A BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY
Missouri law is set up to make sure out-of-state companies don’t come in and dominate the marijuana business. In addition, they’ve limited the number of licenses any one company can have, eliminating domination of the industry by just a few major in-state players.
The law requires any entity seeking a license to have at least 51% ownership by someone who has lived in the state for at least one year before applying. It prohibits any company from operating more than three cultivation facilities, five dispensaries or three medical marijuana-infused manufacturing facilities. Each license would have to be earned individually.
There’s a serious opportunity for small businesses owner to capitalize on what will certainly become a great economic boom for Missouri. The applications fees are relatively steep, but based on income earned in other states, the financially reward will make the investment well worth it.
• The non-refundable application fees are:
$10,000 for cultivation then $25,000 per year,
$6,000 for infused-products then $10,000 per year, and
$6,000 for dispensary fees then $10,000 per year.
Provisions of the medical marijuana law requiring Missouri officials to review “the character, veracity, background, qualifications and relevant experience” of license applicants’ “principal officers and managers. He said each license would have to be approved individually.