MISSOURI (KOLR) — Over 15,000 patients have been approved for medical marijuana cards in the state of Missouri. But where will they get their product?
Some of the facilities that plan to grow marijuana may have to break the law to get their hands on it to begin with.
After Constitutional Amendment 2 for medical marijuana was approved by Missouri voters in November of 2018, potential patients and business owners began getting their affairs in order to get licensed from the Department of Health and Senior Services.
Director of the medical marijuana program, Lyndall Fraker explains that their job is clearly laid out.
“For us as regulators, we have a pretty specific role and that is to approve patients and caregivers,” Fraker said.
They’ll approve manufacturers, dispensaries, and cultivators too. It all starts with cultivators. They’re the ones who have to grow the product that you smoke. But the big question is where will they get their seeds to start that process? Fraker says there is no clear legal pathway.
“This is an issue that every state has dealt with, is the question of how to get seeds or plants to start a cultivation project,” Fraker said. “Our constitution did not tell us, or law enforcement, or the applicants how to handle this. When cultivation projects suddenly appear, some people call that immaculate conception.”
Of course, that term is tongue-in-cheek. The real explanation for that is the law will have to be broken.
“Any place you’re bringing them in from out of state, it’s going to be a federal issue criminally to transport it across state lines,” Chip Sheppard, Director for the Missouri Cannabis Trade Association said.
Sheppard says those who do open grow facilities will need to make a choice.
“When cultivators get their licenses, some will probably get their marijuana in the state with people they know who already have it – either the seeds or the clones,” Sheppard said. “Some people will go out of the state, or out of the country.”
So all 33 states that have legalized medical marijuana have had to deal with the same obstacle, yet marijuana still ends up on the shelves. Sheppard thinks the risk involved is unnecessary.
“It’s ridiculous to have a window where you’re at risk of being a felon because you’re trying to deliver medicine that the state, by a 65.5% margin, has said is a medicine that patients ought to have,” Sheppard said.
2,200 applications have been turned in for business licenses and only 60 cultivation facilities will be granted in the state.
Fraker says after Dec. 31, 2020, all seeds and starter plants must be purchased from a licensed facility.