The Missouri House has voted in favor of an amendment that would lift the cap on the state’s medical marijuana licenses. This would allow essentially any business owner who meets minimum state requirements to secure a license. If the state Senate passes the amendment, it would open up Missouri’s market to more cultivators, manufacturers, and dispensaries.
“We have a great opportunity in Missouri to create thousands of jobs like Colorado, California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Florida. Embrace the farmer, embrace the opportunity. Give Americans the right to succeed or fail,” says KC Clark, a local cannabis advocate and CEO of Cannabis Startup Incubator.
The amendment is in reaction to a flurry of appeals, and lawsuits from rejected applicants who argue the state’s blind scoring system is flawed. The state awards a 30% scoring bonus to businesses in ZIP codes with an employment rate of 85 to 89.9% and a 40% scoring bonus to ZIP codes with an employment rate of 0 to 84.9%.
They claim that deterministic economic impact solely by ZIP code is inaccurate and that the ZIP code data, which was gathered from the U.S. Census Bureau from 2013 to 2017, is out of date. On top of that, they say that by the time they realized the state would award more points to low-income areas, they had already made plans and secured leases.
Rep. Ben Baker, the sponsor of the amendment, says that although he did not vote to legalize marijuana, he doesn’t support government monopolies. “It’s very clear it hasn’t been a fair process, it hasn’t been transparent, and definitely not a competitive process.” He introduced the amendment after listening to hearings conducted by a Missouri House Special Committee.
It was investigating complaints of large, out of state businesses being awarded most of the licenses, conflicts of interests, and changes to state criteria as the marijuana program was mid rollout. Baker argues that lifting the cap would be a great way for the state to generate more revenue during the post-coronavirus economic slump.
“If we lift the caps, then we can see a robust and rapid recovery for at least one sector of our industry: farming, agriculture, home grow and holistic medicine, local stores, and shops,” says Cannabis Startup Incubator CEO KC Clark.
“It’ll be better in a lot of ways. It drives costs down and it helps to suppress the black market. And especially in a time when people are scrambling for jobs. It’s a job creator,” says amendment sponsor Baker.
Industry watchers believe the entire industry, including Round Meadow Holdings Corp. and Green Growth Brands Inc. (CSE: GGB) (OTCQB: GGBXF), is hoping that the amendment is passed so that a lot more people have a chance to get a business license.
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