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Missouri Regulators Draft of Adult-Use Cannabis Rules

Only two days after the voters approved a referendum to legalize recreational cannabis, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services released its proposed regulations for adult-use cannabis.

Missouri voters ended the prohibition on cannabis with the adoption of Constitutional Amendment 3 on November 8, which appeared on the ballot for last week’s midterm elections. Over one million people voted in favor of this amendment. It received over 53%, with 99 percent of votes counted, as of Monday morning.

The successful amendment to the state’s constitution legalizes the possession, use, sale, and delivery of cannabis for personal use for adults aged 21 and older and sets a 6% tax on commercial cannabis sales. This amendment includes provisions that allow for the exoneration of certain cannabis-related criminal convictions.

Two days later, voters cast their ballots and the DHSS published its draft regulations for adult-use cannabis. It also opened a period of public comments to get feedback from the interested parties. This public comment period will run until Friday, November 25, at 11:59 p.m.

Constitutional Amendment 3 states that the measure takes effect after 30 days following passage. This will occur on December 8. Lyndall Fraker from DHSS’s medical marijuana section stated that the agency prepared the regulations in advance of election day to ensure they were ready in time for the deadline.

“Our legal team has been working on the rules for a few weeks now, so we actually have those ready — the rough draft ready for public display — and I think you’re going to see those in the next day or two and that’s important to get those out there,” Fraker told local media.

Beginning next month, License applications will be accepted

Under the proposal, the health department’s Division of Cannabis Regulation will begin accepting recreational cannabis retailer license applications from the state’s existing medical marijuana dispensaries beginning on December 8. So, the 60 day period in which license applications can be approved by regulators means that adult-use cannabis sales should not begin before February 2023.

Missouri may legalize recreational marijuana use even faster than this, though. Lisa Cox spoke on behalf of the DHSS. St. Louis Post-Dispatch that officials expect to convert licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries “before the 60-day deadline, as soon as we have rules for comprehensive facilities filed.”

“We anticipate comprehensive dispensaries will be able to begin selling to adult use consumers as soon as their license is approved for conversion,” Cox said.

Cox noted that the amendment bars the DHSS from issuing any new “comprehensive” licenses to stand-alone recreational marijuana dispensaries “for 548 days after December 8, 2022.”

Jack Cardetti, a spokesman for the Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association, said the timing of the proposed rollout “likely means that Missouri will have one of the quickest and smoothest transitions to adult use sales in the nation.”

The regulations call for a total of 192 licenses for combined medical marijuana and “comprehensive” adult-use dispensaries, to be evenly divided among the state’s eight districts. Also, the proposed regulations limit cannabis cultivation to 62 facilities. 

Starting in June 2023 the DHSS could accept applications from up to 144 microbusinesses of cannabis. A limit of 48 microbusiness licenses distributed among the state’s eight districts could be approved within the first 270 days, according to the regulations.

Constitutional Amendment 3 legalizes home cultivation of cannabis to be used for personal purposes for adult who have obtained a permit from Division of Cannabis Regulation. Cox said the state “will begin accepting applications for adult use personal cultivation during or before the first week of January.”

The DHSS website allows you to submit comments regarding the Missouri adult-use marijuana regulations.