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How to Open a Dispensary in missouri


Are you wondering how to open a dispensary in Missouri? This page provides current updates on news and information regarding starting a cannabis business in Missouri, along with useful insights into future developments for the state.

In Missouri, both adult-use (recreational) and medical marijuana are legal. Amendment 3, which was passed by Missourians in November 2022, allows individuals 21 and over to purchase up to 3 ounces of cannabis. This marked the end of a 50-year ban on marijuana use in the state and the law became effective in December 2022.

On March 31st, 2022, Missouri’s House of Representatives approved a bill that will legalize, tax and regulate recreational marijuana. The Cannabis Freedom Act passed the House Public Safety Committee 5-4 with amendments; however, it was unlikely to receive a full vote before the session ended on May 13, 2022.

On May 8th, 2022, Legal Missouri 2022 submitted more than 385,000 signatures to the state. To submit the subject to a vote, they will need 171,592 of those submissions to be validated. On August 9th, the secretary of state of Missouri announced that the question of legalizing marijuana for adult use would be on the ballot for November 8th. On September 9th, a state court dismissed the legal challenge filed by anti-legalization groups. Here is the whole 38-page proposal for an amendment of article XIV to legalize cannabis in Missouri.

Since October 1st, 2022, the campaign known as Legal Missouri 2022 has received approximately 700,000 dollars in significant campaign donations. The majority of the contributions are coming from businesses in the state that deal with medicinal marijuana. These businesses would get priority when it comes to obtaining licenses to sell cannabis for adult use. 

On November 10th, 2022, the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced proposed adult-use market draft regulations and started a public comment period. Missourians are encouraged to submit public comments during the next two weeks to assist officials finalize the rules. 

On December 8th, 2022, cannabis legalization in Missouri took effect, allowing adults over the age of 21 to possess up to 3 ounces without facing criminal penalties, and allowing existing medical marijuana dispensaries to begin applying for comprehensive licenses. All 191 of Missouri’s currently operational medicinal dispensaries are eligible to apply to become recreational retailers. 

Since the DHSS began accepting applications on December 8th, 2022, the majority of Missouri’s medical cannabis operators have applied for a new license to service the adult-use market. 

On February 3rd, 2023, the Department of Health and Senior Services gave the green light for Missouri dispensaries to sell both recreational and medical cannabis to those 21 and over with a comprehensive license, which they approved for 335 of the state’s medical facilities. As a result, recreational marijuana is now legally accessible in Missouri.

Starting July 27th, 2023, Missouri is conducting its first lottery for cannabis microbusiness licenses, with 48 licenses to be issued in this round. Over an 18-month period, a total of 144 licenses will be awarded through three random lotteries, with each congressional district in Missouri receiving four wholesale licenses and two dispensary licenses. The application period ended on August 10th, with the lottery drawing and announcement of results scheduled between August 11 and October 2. Before the August 10th deadline, 1,601 individuals submitted microbusiness license applications to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. 

On October 2, the Missouri Division of Cannabis Regulation (DCR) revealed the names of 48 microbusiness license winners, selected through a random lottery from over 1,600 applicants. These winners include six licenses in each of Missouri’s eight congressional districts, comprising two dispensary licenses and four wholesale facility licenses. The lottery, held on August 28, followed a 15-day application period, and applicant identities were not considered during the process. The DCR conducted eligibility reviews of the drawn applications before issuing the licenses.

How Big Is the Opportunity

The Missouri cannabis market is poised for significant growth in the coming years, both for medical and adult-use (recreational) cannabis. According to Grand View Research, the Missouri medical cannabis market size is expected to reach USD 518.7 million in 2023 and grow at a compound annual growth rate of 21.4% from 2023 to 2030, reaching USD 2.0 billion by 2030.

Additionally, the introduction of an adult-use marijuana market in Missouri is expected to bring in substantial revenue. First-year sales are estimated to reach up to $550 million, according to MJBizDaily, with fourth-year sales projected to be $800 million to $900 million.

These projections highlight the significant opportunity for investment and business growth within the Missouri cannabis market.

Local Cannabis Laws & Restrictions

When considering opening a cannabis business in Missouri, one of the critical factors to consider is location. Under Amendment 2, local governments may not stop people from setting up marijuana businesses in their area, but they can set up rules like operating hours and fines. Marijuana facilities cannot be located within 1,000 feet of a school, daycare center, or church unless they are allowed by the neighborhood.

Medical Marijuana

On November 6, 2018, Missourians voted to legalize the use of medical marijuana for qualified patients who have a doctor’s certificate. Amendment 2 passed with 65.5 percent of the vote.

On December 6, 2018, the law came into effect. During late 2019 and early 2020, the state began giving licenses to medical cannabis dispensaries, labs, growers, and producers. Missouri was able to get its medical marijuana program up and running within 23 months instead of the national average of 29 months.

With the permission of a doctor, a person who has been diagnosed with Cancer, Epilepsy, Glaucoma, or another covered medical condition may be able to get medical marijuana. 

The number of medicinal marijuana patients enrolled in Missouri continues to rise on a steady basis. According to state records, there were more than 160,000 qualifying patients, 3,000 caregivers, and 300 facilities by the end of 2021.

Medical Marijuana Program Opportunities

The Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) in Missouri is in charge of making sure that the market structure is set up to meet the legal demand for medical marijuana as well as regulating and controlling medical marijuana facilities.

There are six types of business licenses for medical marijuana businesses in Missouri: dispensary license, cultivation license, infused product manufacturing license, laboratory testing license, transportation license, and seed to sale license.

Medical Marijuana Facility Application 

Only transportation, facility agent and seed-to-sale applications are presently available. These will be accepted by DHSS indefinitely. Transportation applications will be filed via the Missouri Medical Marijuana Registry Portal, a secure, online system. For seed-to-sale applications and instructions on how to apply, go to their online application page. You can also check Facility FAQs for more details about licensing/certification, security measures, and more.

Recreational Use Legalization

On August 27, 2021, Legal Missouri 22 filed an initiative to legalize recreational marijuana. On December 1, 2021, the campaign for Legal Missouri 2022 officially began. 

Voters in Missouri approved a ballot measure to make marijuana use for recreational purposes legal on November 8, 2022. What will be accomplished as a result of the Legal Missouri 2022 program is as follows:

  • Three ounces of cannabis may be bought by those over 21.
  • With a registration card, people may cultivate six flowering, six immature, and six cloned marijuana plants.
  • The Department of Health and Senior Services will oversee and license cannabis companies.
  • At least 144 microbusiness licenses will be awarded by lottery and preference will be given to low-income applicants and individuals whose lives have been disproportionately affected by drug prohibition.
  • Current medical marijuana retailers will also be the first to begin serving adult customers with dual licenses.
  • The new license holders for each type will be chosen at random through a lottery.

Cannabis Business Opportunities

Cannabis License Types

In Missouri, there are various licenses that can be obtained to legally participate in the cannabis industry, such as:The comprehensive marijuana dispensary facility license authorizes the acquisition, processing, packaging, storage, sale, transportation, and delivery of marijuana, marijuana seeds, clones, marijuana-infused products, and drug paraphernalia used for administering marijuana to qualifying patients, primary caregivers, or consumers, within the licensed property or at any address as directed by the patient/caregiver/consumer, and in accordance with limitations, to comprehensive facilities, marijuana testing facilities, or medical facilities.

The comprehensive marijuana-infused products manufacturing facility license permits the acquisition, processing, packaging, storage, manufacture, transportation, and sale of marijuana-infused products, prerolls, and infused prerolls to marijuana dispensary facilities, marijuana testing facilities, or other marijuana-infused products manufacturing facilities.

The microbusiness dispensary facility license allows the acquisition, processing, packaging, storage, sale, transportation, and delivery of marijuana, marijuana seeds, clones, marijuana-infused products, and drug paraphernalia for administering marijuana to consumers, qualifying patients, or primary caregivers within the licensed property or at any address as directed by the patient/caregiver/consumer, and in accordance with limitations and as allowed by law, to a microbusiness wholesale facility or a marijuana testing facility.

The microbusiness wholesale facility license enables the acquisition, cultivation, processing, packaging, storage, manufacture, transportation, delivery, and sale of marijuana, marijuana seeds, marijuana vegetative cuttings, and marijuana-infused products to microbusiness dispensary facilities, other microbusiness wholesale facilities, or marijuana testing facilities.

How do I get a license to open a dispensary in Missouri?

First, you have to decide which type of dispensary you want to open. Do you plan to open a medical, comprehensive or microbusiness dispensary license? 

For a microbusiness dispensary license, the application period is already closed. Applicants submitted applications through the on-line registry portal starting July 27,2023 to August 10, 2023. You can read the eligibility criteria to understand who can open a dispensary in Missouri. The microbusiness application form and instructions are also provided to help you get started. 

For medical and comprehensive licenses, Missouri is temporarily halting the acceptance of applications. Existing medical license holders may convert to comprehensive licenses, which authorize the sale of marijuana for both medical and recreational use. The department will announce the acceptance of new applications with at least 6 months notice. Information in this section will be updated as soon as it becomes available.

Medical Facility Conversion 

Existing medical cultivation, manufacturing, and dispensary facilities will be able to begin filing requests to convert to a comprehensive facility license beginning on December 8, 2022.  

To be considered for conversion, facilities must meet these requirements:

  • A plan to promote and encourage involvement in the regulated marijuana business by populations disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition.
  • A plan that describes how the licensee will serve both the medical and adult-use markets while maintaining adequate supply at reasonable pricing for qualifying patients.
  • $2,000 conversion fee.
  • Conversion requests must be made in an online manner authorized by the department.

There is a set of instructions accessible for anybody who would want to make a conversion request.

How many dispensary licenses are there in Missouri?

As of May 30, 2023, there are 6 medical and 207 comprehensive dispensary licenses in Missouri. The Department of Health and Senior Services maintains a licensed dispensary facilities list. You can check it here

How much does it cost to open up a dispensary in Missouri?

The costs associated with opening a cannabis dispensary in Missouri depend on the type of dispensary you plan to open. The application fee for a dispensary facility comprehensive license is $7,420. If you have a medical facility and are planning to convert to a comprehensive license, the application fee is $2,000. For a dispensary microbusiness license, the application fee is $1,500. These fees are valid for applications submitted on July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2024. 

Fees for Other Cannabis Business Types

For other comprehensive cannabis business types in Missouri, here are the fees:. 

For a Cultivation Facility, the application and renewal fee is $12,720 while the annual fee is $26,500. 

For a Manufacturing Facility, the application and renewal fee is $7,420 while the annual fee is $10,600. 

For information on the financial costs of opening a dispensary, including examples from various states, refer to this guide on the financial aspects of starting a dispensary.

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of events going on in Missouri that could change when and how recreational marijuana is legalized. We will keep you up to date on how to open a dispensary in Missouri and all the important news, including the news that isn’t so easy to find. You can sign up for our Missouri Cannabis Mailing List by filling out the form below.

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  • When will the new dispensary license application process in Missouri be available?
  • What are the requirements to open a dispensary in Missouri?
  • What special programs will be available?
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