Missouri lawmakers push for more medical marijuana licenses

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(This story has been updated to clarify that medical marijuana sales in Missouri have not yet begun.)

A group of Missouri lawmakers wants to substantially increase the number of medical cannabis business permits for the market, arguing the state imposed an arbitrary cap that resulted in a disastrous licensing round.

The legislative effort reflects strong criticism of the state’s handling of license applications as well as the decision to issue the minimum number of permits called for by the voter-approved initiative that legalized MMJ in 2018, according to The Kansas City Star.

The licensing round, during which 192 dispensary permits were issued, sparked hundreds of appeals, several lawsuits and a state legislative investigation into allegations of conflicts of interest and irregularities. The FBI also reportedly is investigating several license applicants.

State Rep. Ben Baker, a Republican, called the program a “disaster” that violates free-market principles, according to the Star. Some Democratic lawmakers also have sharply criticized the state.

It’s uncertain whether the measure will pass before Missouri’s legislative session is scheduled to end at 6 p.m. CT Friday.

Medical marijuana sales in Missouri have been delayed because of the coronavirus outbreak but are expected to begin in late summer.