Missouri's blossoming recreational marijuana industry officially has rules, setting the table for sales to begin early next month.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) filed its rule set for the program with the secretary of state late last week, making them effective Feb. 3. Once they officially take hold, the department will start approving and denying requests from the already-licensed medical marijuana facilities seeking to transition to a comprehensive business. Recreational sales can then begin as soon as awardees are prepared for them.
"This emergency rule is necessary to protect a compelling governmental interest since Amendment 3 to the Missouri Constitution made significant changes to the regulation of marijuana, and new rules will be needed to effectuate those changes," the filing from DHSS reads. "The scope of this emergency rule is limited to the circumstances creating the emergency and complies with the protections extended in the Missouri and United States Constitutions. The Department of Health and Senior Services believes this emergency rule is fair to all interested persons and parties under the circumstances."
The department wrote that the emergency rules were essential to guide producers, sellers and consumers and prevent confusion as the lengthy constitutional changes take effect.
The department held three public comment periods for the proposed rules before filing the final draft with the state.
Feb. 6 will mark the first day DHSS will be accepting personal cultivation applications, which would allow those 21 years and older to grow plants for personal use within an enclosed, locked facility in their home.
The same date is the deadline for the selection of a chief equity officer, who will be tasked with overseeing the state's microbusiness program, touted as the first among states that have taken the step to legalize the recreational industry.
DHSS will begin distributing microbusiness licenses to business entities worth less than $250,000 and an income below 250 percent of the U.S. poverty level. Those licenses will be divided into two categories: microbusiness wholesale licensees will be able to cultivate and manufacture products, which can then be sold to retail-only microbusiness dispensaries.
Forms and instructions will be available June 6, per DHSS, with three rounds of applications accepted beginning this September, next June and in March 2025.
Voters passed Amendment 3 in November, legalizing the use and possession of up to 3 ounces of recreational marijuana for those 21 and up as well as the manufacturing and sale of marijuana products by licensed businesses. The amendment took effect a month later, decriminalizing use and possession, but sales have yet to begin.
The state began accepting requests from existing medicinal marijuana facilities for recreational licensure, giving existing licensees a spot at the front of the line. The Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) also released cultivation application forms Jan. 7; if approved, they will allow licensees to grow their own plants with oversight from the department. Those forms will be accepted beginning Feb. 6, according to DHSS.
The amendment also included provisions allowing those convicted of non-violent marijuana-related crimes to receive expungements of their records; around 3,500 records have already been wiped across 25 counties, according to Missouri NORML, an advocacy group that backed the Amendment 3 campaign.
Learn more about the state's plans and timetables online at cannabis.mo.gov.