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420 with CNW — Missouri Conducts Outreach Events as Cannabis Microbusiness Lottery Looms

The cannabis industry in Missouri is likened to the modern-day “gold rush,” according to Tiffany and Anwar Lee, a couple from St. Louis. Intrigued by the potential, they contemplate participating in a lottery system by paying a $1,500 application fee for a chance to obtain a coveted cannabis microbusiness license.

The new initiative, designed to foster opportunities for businesses in marginalized communities, stems from the constitutional amendment that legalized recreational marijuana following last year’s voter approval. Discussing their prospects at an outreach event in St. Louis, Anwar acknowledges the financial potential the industry holds, providing a means to achieve a comfortable standard of living.

However, the odds of success for applicants such as the Lees remain slim, given the limited number of licenses to be awarded. In August, the Missouri lottery will select only six winners per Congressional district, totaling 48 licenses across the state.

Abigail Vivas, Missouri’s chief equity officer, leads various outreach events to explain the eligibility criteria for a microbusiness license. Vivas anticipates around 5,000 applicants statewide, although other estimates suggest it could be around 1,000 per congressional district.

The program became a focal point during the campaign to legalize marijuana, countering opponents’ claims that the law would further entrench an unjust and unequal licensing system, benefiting only the wealthy. Supporters of the program highlighted its uniqueness nationwide and its potential to diversify an industry predominantly dominated by white entrepreneurs.

Although the term “equity” is not explicitly stated in the program’s constitution, its underlying spirit is to prioritize applicants who have been impacted by unfair marijuana-related legal actions. Individuals with past nonviolent marijuana offenses, residing in impoverished areas or experiencing high unemployment levels qualify for consideration.

While the program’s intention is commendable, concerns arise regarding the use of ZIP codes for eligibility assessment. Some ZIP codes correlate to courthouses, potentially allowing affluent residents in certain neighborhoods to apply for and receive licenses meant for disadvantaged communities. This discrepancy has prompted discussions, and the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has issued a variance, accepting alternative forms of proof, such as statements from elected officials attesting to historical incarceration rates.

Vivas acknowledges the challenges and uncertainties surrounding the microbusiness program’s implementation but affirms the department’s commitment to staying flexible and aligned with the spirit of the law. While it may not be a perfect system, the state is striving to ensure a fair and inclusive process for applicants seeking to participate in the burgeoning cannabis industry.

These state-level laws aren’t applicable for companies that target making FDA-approved medicines from marijuana. Enterprises such as IGC Pharma Inc. (NYSE American: IGC) that have set their eyes on developing THC-based formulations against chronic pain follow drug-development guidelines established by the FDA, and so they don’t have to pander to the patchwork of marijuana laws existing in different states.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to IGC Pharma Inc. (NYSE American: IGC) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://cnw.fm/IGC

About CNW420

CNW420 spotlights the latest developments in the rapidly evolving cannabis industry through the release of two informative articles each business day. Our concise, informative content serves as a gateway for investors interested in the legalized cannabis sector and provides updates on how regulatory developments may impact financial markets. Articles are released each business day at 4:20 a.m. and 4:20 p.m. Eastern – our tribute to the time synonymous with cannabis culture. If marijuana and the burgeoning industry surrounding it are on your radar, CNW420 is for you! Check back daily to stay up-to-date on the latest milestones in the fast -changing world of cannabis.

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