Missouri state officials are working to write the rules for the medical marijuana industry and the license application. Officials plan to finish the process June 4 and begin accepting business applications Aug. 3.
Voters passed Amendment 2 in November, which legalized marijuana in Missouri for medical purposes. Though the law officially passed in December, the law has yet to take effect.
According to New Approach Missouri, the deadline for patient registration is June 6, 2019. The deadline to apply for a grower and/or dispensary license is January 2020, and dispensaries should open by early 2020.
According to KY3 in Springfield, Missouri, the Missouri health department is expecting upwards of 180,000 people to apply for medical marijuana cards after sales begin.
People can apply for a medical marijuana card early, but there are a specific set of rules that must be followed. According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, a qualifying patient must obtain a new physician certification annually, and the certification must be less than 30 days old when the application is submitted.
When applying, a person may also obtain an identification card to cultivate up to six marijuana plants. Applications for both can be completed online. As of March, a total of 453 pre-filled applications have been submitted to the department with fees totaling $3,266,000.
Under federal law, Missouri residents won't legally be able to have a license for medical marijuana and possess a firearm at the same time.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives addressed this in an open letter September 2011 which stated marijuana is still illegal federally.
“Therefore, any person who uses or is addicted to marijuana, regardless of whether his or her state passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes, in an unlawful user of or addicted to a control substance, and is prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition,” the open letter reads.
Bears said he believes the decision is a smart one as it can alter a person's state of mind.
“I don’t think you should be able to possess a gun with alcohol either and I think it should be viewed in that same way,” Bears said. “But, we’re also not using alcohol as only a medicinal use right and marijuana does alter your mind in a way.”
The amendment places a 4 percent tax on medical marijuana. The revenue would be used to support the regulation of the program, and the extra money will be used to help Missouri veterans.
States like Colorado use some of the money generated from the sales and tax of marijuana to fund public education; Missouri is looking into that possibility. Northwest Young Democrats Club President junior Tyler Bears said it could be really beneficial to have tax money go toward education.
“So Colorado, if you look at that, a lot of the taxes that are being pulled from that are going into the education system, and I think that is fantastic,” Bears said. “Schools are really an economic driver, and for Northwest Missouri, that would be really phenomenal because we are really kind of lacking on money and job opportunities.”
Bears said the marijuana industry could also be a huge draw for a younger audience and improve the overall job market.
“I think it (marijuana) would also help to bring a lot of younger people to smaller counties or maybe even keeping them in because in a lot of these small counties kids are leaving,” Bears said.
Bears said he could see Missouri eventually legalizing recreational marijuana. But he said that when it comes to both medical and recreational uses officials must be smart about the regulations they impose.
While Bears supports medical marijuana, there are still drawbacks that come along with using the drug.
“I think that sometimes marijuana is often viewed with this umbrella-like view of ‘Oh, it’s good for me; it’s good for everyone,’ and that is not necessarily the case,” Bears said. “In fact, there have been many cases where people with schizophrenia have been horribly, horribly, mistreated with marijuana and it has really bad lasting effects on them.”