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story.lead_photo.caption FILE: Marijuana plants are pictured at the Baker's marijuana nursery at Baker Medical Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020, in Oklahoma City. Photo by Associated Press / Fulton Sun.

As more medical marijuana dispensaries in Missouri open, the state is implementing an online process for physicians to certify patients for the program.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services' Section for Medical Marijuana Regulation on Wednesday began notifying physicians about the change to allow them to submit patient certifications electronically.

The first step will be for physicians to create accounts within the online system.

The system offers a secure account for physicians, whose good standing will also continue to be verified at the time of the application review. DHSS hopes to have a fully electronic submission process by June.

The department encourages physicians and patients to watch for more information as the project continues. It will provide chances for public feedback. More information may be found on the DHSS website at health.mo.gov/safety/medical-marijuana/index.php.

The site includes an interactive map showing the locations and statuses of dispensaries, manufacturers, cultivators, testers and transporters.

It shows three testing sites, four manufacturing sites, four transportation sites, 15 cultivators and 24 dispensaries have received approval to operate.

Since the first dispensary opened in October, dispensaries have cumulative sales of nearly $7.65 million. Missouri had approved about 75,000 patients for medical marijuana cards as of Tuesday.

However, it also shows that 248 facilities — which were required to become operational within a year of being issues a license — had requested variances to extend their operational deadlines. The section had completed reviews of 104 of the requests.

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