Missouri judge allows suit challenging marijuana license caps to proceed

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A lawsuit challenging Missouri’s medical cannabis licensing caps and scoring process can move forward toward a potential trial, a judge ruled.

A county circuit judge rejected the state Department of Health and Senior Services motion to dismiss the suit filed by four unsuccessful medical marijuana license applicants, according to Law360 and a news release from the plaintiffs.

The businesses claim the license cap is in conflict with a state constitutional amendment that voters passed in 2018 to legalize MMJ.

The group, led by Sarcoxie Nursery, also is challenging the licensing scoring process, which included extra points for applications from economically disadvantaged areas based solely on unemployment rates by ZIP code.

The state has defended the licensing process and also has argued that the plaintiffs need to work through the state appeals process before litigating.

Missouri regulators did award 192 dispensary, 60 cultivation and 86 processing licenses. But more than 800 licensing appeals have been filed, reflecting industry concerns about the fairness of the scoring.

Missouri’s MMJ program is expected to launch by late summer or early fall.