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Updated November 28, 2022

Missouri ballot initiative, Amendment 3 passed on Tuesday, November 8, providing for the legalization of the purchase, possession, consumption, use, delivery, manufacturing, and sale of marijuana for personal use for adults over the age of 21. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) is granted licensing authority for the cultivation, manufacture, sale, or dispensing of marijuana and has already published the first draft of rule on November 10, 2022, for the state’s forthcoming adult-use cannabis industry.

Current medical marijuana licensees will be the first eligible for applying for comprehensive (adult-use) licenses this December with sales projected to start as soon as February 2023. The Amendment stipulates that any medical marijuana facility holding an active facility license may convert its license to a comprehensive marijuana license. The department will issue the same number of licenses for comprehensive marijuana facilities, as were authorized for medical marijuana facilities as of December 7, 2022.  

The amendment also creates a microbusiness lottery program for smaller businesses and entrepreneurs looking to gain entry into the Industry. These microbusiness licenses will be offered for dispensaries and wholesale facilities and DHSS could make those applications available as soon as June 2023 and has to start accepting applications for microbusiness licenses in September 2023.

To qualify an applicant would need to meet one of the following criteria:

  • Have a net worth of less than $250,000 and have had an income below 250% of the federal poverty level, or successor level, as outlined in the applicable calendar year’s federal poverty income guidelines published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or at least three of the ten calendar years before applying for a marijuana microbusiness facility license; or
  • Have a valid service-connected disability card issued by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs; or
  • Be a person who has been or a person whose parent, guardian, or spouse has been arrested for, prosecuted for, or convicted of a non-violent marijuana offense, except for a conviction involving the provision of marijuana to a minor, or a conviction of driving under the influence of marijuana. The arrest, charge, or conviction must have occurred at least one year before the effective date of this section; or
  • Graduated from an unaccredited school district, or had a similar successor designation, at the time of graduation, or has lived in a zip code containing an unaccredited school district, or similar successor designation, for three of the past five years; or
  • Reside in a ZIP code or census tract area where:
    • Thirty percent or more of the population lives below the federal poverty level.
    • The rate of unemployment is fifty percent higher than the state average rate of unemployment.
    • The historic rate of incarceration for marijuana-related offenses is fifty percent higher than the rate for the entire state.

The lottery program is a social equity program. In cases where there are more applicants than available licenses, the department will utilize a lottery to select which applicants for available licenses. The timing of submittal and the completeness and accuracy of the application will determine eligibility for the lottery.

  1. All timely applications submitted with an application fee will be eligible for the lottery. 
  2. Eligible applications will be randomized and listed in sequential numerical order, beginning with the number one. If licenses are to be issued by congressional district, then applicants will be randomized and listed in numerical order within each congressional district.
  3. After listing all applicants in sequential numerical order, the department will review each application, beginning with number one, to determine if the applicant is eligible for licensure before issuing the license.
  4. If during the review period, the department determines an application meets the minimum application criteria, the license will be granted.

Applications

The application process for a dispensary is tedious and the regulatory process in Missouri is moving fast. An accurate and complete application and timely submittal increase your chances of being awarded a Missouri microbusiness license. We highly recommend finding a consulting group to help you through the licensing process. There will be questions involving specific laws, policies, procedures, and other details that you may not know the answers to. Hiring an experienced professional for your application writing can be invaluable when you’re filling out the required sections.

Securing Capital

It can be challenging to secure capital in the cannabis space. The federal government says cannabis is a controlled substance, therefore traditional lending options are out of the question. This leaves cannabis companies with limited options for raising capital. The most common way cannabis businesses raise capital is through private investors. Fortunately, many private investors are willing to invest in the cannabis space.

Consider this: your average dispensary costs between $150,000 and $2 million. You might not be spending $2 million a year on your dispensary, but even the low end of $150,000 is still a significant investment. Don’t forget the startup costs associated with simply applying for licensure, too.

Staffing Cannabis

It can be difficult to staff a cannabis company. The importance of budtenders cannot be overstated. You want to hire workers who are not only passionate and knowledgeable about cannabis but also willing to work hard for the industry’s success. 

The most important part of staffing your dispensary is training the people you hire. Make sure you have a comprehensive training program in place that teaches your staff to not only properly interact with customers and make them feel welcome, but recommend the best products for them. Remember, you’ll get many customers who have never used cannabis before. Your budtenders need to be able to break it down in the simplest terms possible.

Missouri’s minimum wage is $8.65; paying a higher livable wage is a great way to source great talent while boosting staff loyalty and retention. 

Note: It costs about $250,000, on average, to staff a dispensary for a year.

Sourcing Product

As a cannabis dispensary owner, there are few more important things than selling a great product. When sourcing products, it’s important to remember that Missouri’s law only allows for 50% of outside products, so half of your store will be filled with your product. Make that other half count! Find a supplier with a proven track record of supplying consistently high-quality and safe products to cannabis dispensaries. 

If you notice inconsistent product quality, poor communication, or supply chain challenges, it may be time to find another supplier that will better service your needs.

Compliance Considerations

When it comes to cannabis, you can’t be compliant enough. According to the federal government, you’re handling a controlled substance, so compliance is critical in this space.

There are many things to keep in mind when it comes to compliance, such as inventory management. Under Missouri law, licensed retailers need to use the METRC tracking system to track inventory from seed to sale.

For compliance purposes, you also need to ensure your dispensary is fully equipped with cameras that allow you to view every angle of the shop. Where you’re located, how you market and advertise your dispensary, the cash controls you have in place, and even your product packaging will have to meet compliance standards.

Marketing Your Cannabis Dispensary

Marketing a dispensary can be tricky due to compliance considerations. What’s more, the increasing competition you’re bound to face when applications open up for recreational licenses will make it more difficult for your cannabis brand to stand out. Not to mention, cannabis companies face legal limitations when it comes to advertising and marketing. 

Mary Jane Marketer can help you attract and retain customers with branding, marketing, and advertising that works in the cannabis space. Just book a consultation to get started.

Need Help with Your Dispensary License Application in Missouri?

If you’re not already a Missouri medical marijuana dispensary owner, you’ll have to qualify and apply as a microbusiness and win a lottery to become a recreational dispensary owner. You can never plan too much or too early. The application process is stringent, complex, and time-consuming, so it’s good to get a head start. 

Want to learn more about opening a dispensary in Missouri? Fill out the form below.

 


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