As Missouri's first medical marijuana dispensaries open for business over the next year, locals will have to cross county lines to get it legally.
On Jan. 23, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services announced it had begun the process of licensing 192 dispensary facilities across the state — and none of the five Callaway County applicants were approved.
Medical marijuana use is now legal, with a doctor's approval, for treatment of ailments including cancer, epilepsy and severe chronic medical conditions (including multiple sclerosis, seizures, Parkinson's disease, Tourette syndrome and any terminal illness). More than 31,000 Missourians have already applied for medical marijuana cards.
In Jefferson City, two dispensaries located across the street from one another were approved. In Columbia, seven will be licensed. One Mexico dispensary was also on the list.
According to a DHSS press release, licensing decisions were based on ranked scores. Points were awarded based on business plans, security, experience in a legal cannabis market, potential positive impact on the community, competitiveness and experience in health care.
But, in accordance with the 2018 constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana in Missouri, the department had to ensure dispensaries are evenly distributed throughout Missouri's congressional districts.
Missouri's 3rd Congressional District, of which Callaway County is a part, stretches from Osage Beach to the outer-most suburbs of St. Louis. As such, many of its 24 approved dispensaries will be located near Sunrise Beach in the west or St. Peters in the east.
DHSS communications Director Lisa Cox said denials could stem from several possible reasons, such as "failure to meet minimum qualifications, the results of an analysis for substantial common control, the results of application scoring or application withdrawal."
Some dispensary facilities were denied despite achieving high scores.
That was the case with Fulton applicant Nature's Med MO, LLC, which was denied with a score of 1563.54. Approximately 100 lower-scoring dispensaries across the state and 17 within the same congressional district were approved, including one business in Jefferson City and three in Columbia.
Nina Leaf, LLC, which applied for license for a facility on Old U.S. Highway 40 in Kingdom City, received a score of 1250.79 and was also denied. According to an email from the company's organizer and registered agent Elliana Dixon, Nina Leaf plans to appeal the decision.
Cox said in an email there's still a chance for denied applicants — if an approved dispensary is unable to meet the obligations for a license at any time over the next year, the applicant with the next highest score will be given the opportunity.