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Legal pot sales could begin before February, state says

JEFFERSON CITY — Legal marijuana dispensaries could begin selling to customers before early February, faster than originally expected, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Senior Services said Friday.

Under Missouri’s new constitutional amendment legalizing marijuana, approved by voters on Tuesday, medical marijuana companies will be able to apply Dec. 8 to convert their facilities for “comprehensive” sales.

Nichole Lipner, who works in quality control and assurance for CAMP Cannabis, defoliates the lower parts of the marijuana plants to stimulate flower growth as cultivation technicians work toward their first harvest at the facility in north St. Louis on Feb. 4. 

Nichole Lipner, who works in quality control and assurance for CAMP Cannabis, defoliates the lower parts of the marijuana plants to stimulate flower growth as cultivation technicians work toward their first harvest at the facility in north St. Louis on Feb. 4. 

The state is required to take action within 60 days, making Feb. 6 the date the state would be required to approve conversion applications submitted on Dec. 8.

But DHSS spokeswoman Lisa Cox told the Post-Dispatch that officials expect to convert licenses “before the 60-day deadline, as soon as we have rules for comprehensive facilities filed.”

Cox said, “We anticipate comprehensive dispensaries will be able to begin selling to adult use consumers as soon as their license is approved for conversion.”

Jack Cardetti, spokesman for the Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association, said the timeline “likely means that Missouri will have one of the quickest and smoothest transitions to adult use sales in the nation.”

“It’s conceivable that we could start on Dec. 9 if they got the request and approved it. I find that unlikely,” said Mark Hendren, president of Flora Farms. “I find it more likely that it will take probably the full 60 days.”

Told of the DHSS statement that the state probably won’t need 60 days, Hendren said, “well that would be great.”

He said “we’re ready” for legalization. In addition to growing cannabis, Hendren said Flora operates three dispensaries and is acquiring two more.

“We have enough product in our facility that’s ready to go or will be ready to go in the next 60 days,” Hendren said. “We’re ready to supply everybody.”

The new constitutional amendment also authorizes home cultivation with a state permit. Cox said the state “will begin accepting applications for adult use personal cultivation during or before the first week of January.”

She said the amendment prohibits the department from issuing any new “comprehensive” licenses “for 548 days after December 8, 2022.”

The amendment also allows for smaller “micro” business licenses.

“The Department will begin accepting applications for microbusinesses during or before the first week of September 2023,” Cox said.

Despite many groups and elected officials calling for its defeat, voters approved Amendment 3 on Tuesday by a 53%-to-47% margin.

Missouri is now among 21 states that have legalized cannabis for recreational use. Maryland voters also approved legalization on Tuesday.

The state published draft marijuana regulations on Thursday and is accepting comments until Nov. 25.

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