Only a select few were chosen to be part of Missouri’s cannabis market

Published Dec 21, 2020 12:00 p.m. ET
iStock / Ridofranz

Seventeen legal, medical marijuana dispensaries in America are located in Missouri. The green path has been paved to also include eleven cultivators and one manufacturer for cannabis-infused products. However, not all of the approved coveted businesses have begun to sell product as of yet.

Critics of the arbitrary caps on the number of licenses available and the marked flawed scoring process believe that these issues are causing the reduction in the availability of medical marijuana in the state. Who are the selected few to have this coveted position of being among the only licensed Missouri medical marijuana providers?

Losers

The limiting of licenses has, according to Joseph Bednar, attorney for the Sarcoxie Nursery Cultivation Center, who happens to be a loser in Missouri medical marijuana program, hurts the patient who can benefit from using medical marijuana. He believes the state's system has caused cannabis to be scarcer, causing hardship for the Missouri medical marijuana patient. The cost has increased, where the cannabis patient can get access to their medicine is limited, and some may have to travel considerable distances before they can access their needed medicines.

Ednar knows that the more expensive the medicine is, the prohibiting it will be for patients who need it the most. He believes the issues confronting the medical marijuana states patients not only include geographical issues, but economic hardships must also be looked at. Joseph Bednar and his attorneys are moving forward and suing the state in hopes to overturn Missouri’s licensing caps.

Bednar is waiting on the ruling, with bated breath from Cole County Circuit Judge Patricia Joyce. The trial began in late October, and to date, there has been no resolution on the issue of whether Missouri’s current licensing scheme stands. The lawsuit also challenges the constitutionality of Missouri’s scoring program. The Administrative Hearing Commission received 853 appeals from businesses that were seeking to have their rejections of a license reviewed. According to a spokesperson for Missouri’s Health Department, currently, 739 cases are still pending.

Lack of trust

The scoring process for applicants has been perceived as having a conflict of interests and providing inconsistent scoring. This process is seen as undermining the trust that is needed within the program.

Jack Cardetti representing the Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association and a proponent of Missouri’s rollout, states that Missouri has provided licenses for more businesses than other legal, medical cannabis states. Jack is under the belief that the prices of medical cannabis will drop as more state facilities begin to grow, harvest, and process cannabis.

Cardetti is an investor in QPS Missouri Holdings who happened to capture six licenses. However, none of the locations have been approved to begin operations as of this week.

Past words

Cardetti was heard advocating for licensing caps back in October 2018. Speaking at a forum in Kansas City, he stated that the U.S. Government of Justice would target Missouri if certain rules were followed. One of those regulations involved addressing the oversupply of cannabis by initializing a capping of licenses.  The state does not want more cannabis being produced than what is going to be legally consumed by medical marijuana patients.

His views did cement why there needed to be some form of cap on the licenses, but Jack insists that Missouri lacks a rational basis for issuing caps that violate state laws that govern the rule-making process. The lawyers representing the state of Missouri ultimately disagreed.

First at the gate

Clovr Cannabis in Kansas City is the first cannabis-infused manufacturer that is getting the go-ahead from the Missouri regulators. Josh Mitchem, the co-founder of the company, believes he has an advantage over other businesses by opening first. His company knows not to take anything for granted, and he acknowledges the need for creating good quality products is high but that the shelf space they have been provided can disappear.

Today Clovr is the only company that has the approval to manufacture and to sell edibles, pre-rolled joints, and other cannabis-related items. The Swade dispensary in St Peters, which is owned by Belef and N’Bliss dispensaries in Ellisville, and three St Louis area medical dispensaries are currently stocking Clovr products.

Final thoughts

Cardetti believes that it is only a matter of time before recreational cannabis will be legal in Missouri. Rep. Wiley Price opposes caps on the number of licenses issued. He believes that more legal cannabis businesses will result in more tax money being generated for the state's pocket. He wants a free market and belies that cannabis legalization in the state of Missouri will trigger an economic explosion that will be viewed as the biggest thing that will hit the area since the Budweiser.

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