After Medical Marijuana Passes, Attention Turns Toward Implementation
By Samuel Ast
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services will have around eight months to draft the application forms necessary to buy, and sell, medical marijuana state-wide in Missouri.
Voters approved Amendment 2, one of three medical marijuana measures that appeared on the ballot, on November 7. This amendment, modeled on both Colorado and Oregon’s medical marijuana regulations, has a few big deadlines fast approaching.
By June, the state must have completed the application forms for both consumers and producers, of medical cannabis-related products. The constitutional amendment, as it stands now, specifies nine separate medical conditions, such as cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV, or any terminal illness. Having any one of these conditions, along with a doctor’s signature, makes for a valid license claim. Only Missouri residents will be allowed to apply for one of these licenses. By August, the state is required to begin accepting applications from both patients and cultivators.
To start, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services will grant a minimum of 61 licenses to those who want to grow and sell cannabis-related products, which means roughly 1 license for every 100,000 residents. Ultimately backers of the amendment would like to see no less than 24 dispensaries in each of Missouri’s eight congressional districts.
All sales will be taxed at a four percent rate, with funds going towards healthcare services, job training and housing assistance for veterans.
Amendment 2 does not allow municipalities to ban medical marijuana dispensaries, though minute details like hours of operation, and location can be regulated by local governments. These are known as “time, place and manner” restrictions.
The federal government still considers the sale and possession of marijuana illegal, though more than half of all states have either decriminalized or partially legalized marijuana for recreational or medical purposes.
In a state that has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic, what cannot be overlooked are the several studies that show medical marijuana legalization linked to reduced opioid overdose deaths.