Residents of Missouri last year voted to legalize the medical use of marijuana. The ballot was approved with a thumping two-thirds majority, and Article XVI of Missouri’s constitution was implemented. Post legalization, there has been a massive influx of applicants who want licenses to capitalize on medical marijuana.
State laws require that would-be owners of marijuana business have government-issued licenses. Missouri’s DHSS (Department of Health and Senior Services), which was authorized to receive applications, said it had received over 2,100 applications by its deadline on Tuesday, 4:30 P.M.
The state government, which collected $13 million in revenue from application fees, will issue only 348 licenses. The license bifurcation is based on the type of business. Out of the 348 licenses, 192 will be awarded to dispensaries, 86 to manufacturing facilities. Cultivations facilities and testing labs get 60 and 10 licenses, respectively.
Dr. Randall Williams, Director of the DHSS for Missouri, said that they were expecting a large number of applications in minimal duration. The Department started accepting the applications beginning August 3 and had initially set a deadline for August 17. It was later extended till the afternoon of August 19.
Director of Medical Marijuana, Dr. Lyndall Fraker had expected that the DHSS would have an application count anywhere between 600 and 700. The actual number, however, is more than thrice his forecast. Fraker said that the “astounding” number of applications indicated the enormous interest people had in joining the medical marijuana business.
The DHSS, in a news release, said, “Staff resources are currently committed to reviewing applications for completeness.”
They informed that data about applications sorted by location and facility type would only be available after some weeks.
The Department said that a third-party would review and blind-score the received applications which would be “stripped of any identification information.” The state, which intends to announce the license holders by the end of the year will see about 1,700 businesses with dashed hopes.
Jack Cardetti, a spokesperson for the Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association, expressed the association’s surprise on the significant number of applications received by the DHSS. He commented that many people want to enter this business, and the competition would be fierce among entrepreneurs who had applied for multiple categories of licenses.
Cardetti said that while 1,700 applicants may not possess a license, there is a possibility that they turn to ancillary businesses in the same industry, or be ultimately absorbed by the successful applicants.
The state, which has already issued about 6,500 licenses to patients to avail treatment using cannabis and derivative, said that the dispensaries should start functioning by mid-2020.
Cardetti said that Missouri would have a 192-dispensary network spread evenly. He compared it to the currently functioning 7-dispensary system in Arkansas which had generated a revenue of $5 million since their opening on May 10.
Since the legalization of cannabis in some states of the U.S., there has been a massive explosion in demand for cannabis-based products. Many businesses are already selling Cannabidiol based oils, vapes, and creams claiming therapeutic benefits for severe conditions like depression, chronic pain, and even Parkinson’s disease.