About 22,000 patients now have the OK from Missouri to use medical marijuana cards, but they won’t have anywhere to legally buy the drug for almost two more months, state health officials said Thursday.
Licenses for dispensaries won’t be issued until about Jan. 24, Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services’ Section for Medical Marijuana Regulation said in a statement.
Since the state began accepting applications for dispensary licenses earlier this year, about 150 have been submitted for locations in Kansas City-proper. The winners of those licenses were expected to be announced by the end of this year.
“While we appreciate DHSS doing their best to meet the timeline set forth by Article XIV, it is hard to see that so many sick and dying patients will have to continue to wait even longer for safe access to this essential medicine,” said Jessica Kelly, communications director for NORML KC, the local chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
DHSS had received nearly 24,000 applications for medical marijuana ID cards for patients and caregivers, according to department spokeswoman Lisa Cox.
About 7,000 of those folks also secured a cultivator card, meaning they can legally grow marijuana at home for themselves or a patient who designates them as a caregiver. Everyone else needs a dispensary.
Until those businesses are open there is no legal way for them to get marijuana unless they grow it themselves — an expensive endeavor — or have a caregiver grow it for them.
“The high level of interest from patients and facility applicants has presented unique challenges for our team as they have implemented the constitutional amendment which will make medical marijuana available to qualified patients in Missouri,” said DHSS director Dr. Randall Williams in a statement Thursday.
Some other businesses waiting for licenses should start receiving them before the end of the year — cultivation facilities where marijuana will be grown; manufacturing sites where marijuana-infused products will be made; testers and transporters.
In the two congressional districts that cover most of Kansas City, there are 626 applicants for business licenses that span all five categories, according to the health department.
The state is required to approve at least 10 testing facilities, 60 commercial growers and 86 manufacturers.
Here’s the department’s timeline — all dates are approximate — for when licenses will be issued:
▪ Testing facilities: Dec. 19
▪ Transportation facilities: Dec. 23
▪ Cultivation facilities: Dec. 26
▪ Infused products manufacturing facilities: Jan. 10
▪ Dispensary facilities: Jan. 24
▪ Seed for sale: Jan. 31
The health department said it will announce license winners on its website and through press releases. It will also notify licensees of their approval by email to at least two people identified in the application.