Keeping with its June 4 deadline, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) released applications and application instructions for patients, caregivers, cultivators and dispensaries today. Early Tuesday morning, DHSS posted the documents on its website, along with sample applications that explain how to apply. The applications for Missouri medical marijuana are available now, but DHSS won’t begin accepting and processing them until July. Still, the applications reveal how the rules and regulations for Missouri’s medical marijuana program will actually play out on the ground.
Missouri voters said yes to Amendment 2 in November 2018, approving a measure to legalize and regulate a medical cannabis industry. On paper, Amendment 2 opens up access to medical cannabis for all Missourians, leaving the decision to recommend medical cannabis treatments up to doctors and their patients. That measure also set up a licensing timeline, starting with patients and caregivers before turning to cannabis business applications. All medical marijuana applications are currently available. But DHSS will start accepting patient and caregiver applications first, on July 4.
Missouri Patients, Caregivers and Businesses Can Begin Working on their Applications
So over the next 30 days, patients and caregivers have some work to do. First, they’ll need a a recommendation from their physician. Amendment 2 says doctors can issue recommendations for cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, Tourette’s syndrome, PTSD, HIV/AIDS, terminal illnesses and many more chronic and severe conditions. Doctors have lots of authority to recommend medical cannabis for serious illnesses.
But that doctor’s recommendation is only valid for 30 days, according to Amendment 2. So after patients receive it, they’ll have just a month to complete and submit their application. Patients will also have to pay a $25 registration fee once their application is approved. Once approved, patients will be able to possess up to a 60-day supply (8 ounces) of medical cannabis buds. They’ll also be able to purchase up to 4 ounces in a single 30-day period.
Passage of Amendment 2 also approved the home cultivation of medical marijuana. The rules allow patients to cultivate six mature flowering plants and six non-flowering plants at any one time. But medical homegrow requires its own ID card. So patients and caregivers will have to submit a separate application with its own $100 fee if they want to cultivate their own cannabis. Furthermore, home growers must agree to allow DHSS officials immediate access to their home grow facility at any time for inspection. Home growers must also have a dedicated, locked facility for their plants.
Is Missouri’s MMJ Program Locking Out Low-Income Residents?
Application fees and strict regulations for homegrow facilities are already obstacles to low-income Missourians looking to take advantage of legal medical cannabis. But DHSS has yet to clarify whether poor Missourians are even eligible for medical cannabis ID cards.
One of the questions on the application for patients and home cultivators asks, “are you currently eligible for any Missouri low-income assistance programs?”
State officials have yet to specify whether or not those receiving public assistance can access medical cannabis under Amendment 2. Reports indicate the issue is still being studied. There are concerns that Missouri officials will use the federal prohibition of cannabis to revoke assistance for anyone who received those benefits and tries to obtain a medical ID card.
That could mean that the 22,000 Missouri residents receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families could find themselves locked out of legal medical marijuana. Same for the 256,000 families on Missouri’s HealthNet and the 320,000 households receiving food stamps.
Missouri Will Accept Medical Marijuana Business Applications August 3
On June 4, DHSS also released applications, instructions and sample forms for medical cannabis business licenses. The applications cover everything from cultivation to manufacturing, product infusions, testing labs, dispensaries and transportation facilities.
Judging from the five-page sample on the DHSS website, business applications require extensive documentation. Businesses need to provide complete lists of individuals involved, background checks, character statements, proof of expertise and other evaluation criteria. They even require the GPS coordinates of any cultivation, manufacturing or dispensary facility.
DHSS will only begin accepting business license applications August 3. The deadline for awarding licenses is December 31, 2019. Missouri plans to license nearly 200 dispensaries and about 60 cultivation, testing and manufacturing facilities.