At the moment, 33 states have legalized medical cannabis and 11 states plus Washington D.C. have taken things further and legalized recreational use. States with relatively successful legal marijuana programs like California and Colorado have surpassed $1 billion in cannabis tax revenue, and numerous advocates in other states are pushing for legalization. However, the industry is still immature, processes aren’t streamlined across the board and everyone from cultivators to retailers is subject to lengthy and time-consuming verification processes.
Marijuana business owners in Missouri, for instance, already face a lengthy verification process, and they say they have been caught off guard by an additional hurdle imposed by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, which is in charge of overseeing the industry. There are 338 licensed medical marijuana providers, and after being verified by the state, they are now required to go through an additional verification process.
“Once those 338 were chosen by merit, the Department of Health did a verification process where they go through the application with a license holder to prove that everything they put on the application was accurate, correct and conforms to the department’s rules,” says Jack Cardetti, spokesman for MoCannTrade. Once this is completed, there is a final step called a ‘commencement inspection’ before cultivators, manufacturers, and dispensaries can start operating. Inspectors will “come on-site, look at your facility, make sure it has all the security you said it was going to have and make sure that all the promises that were made on the application were followed through on,” says Cardetti.
Only two of 60 cultivators have made it through the process so far near St. Louis. According to Nate Ruby, president of OXG, the verification process “kind of came as a surprise to probably all of us that won licenses.” He has already been verified by the state, and he hopes his commencement inspection is done soon so he can start planting inside his 17,000 square foot greenhouse in Independence. “Hopefully we’ll start growing by July, harvest around October, November, and get the product in our dispensaries.”
Kansas City Cannabis Company hasn’t been verified yet, but Chief Information Officer Nolan Lawrence hopes the final step will be completed soon. However, “that involves a whole lot of paperwork and documentation with investors, owners, and affiliates of the business.”
It isn’t yet clear what sector players like Champignon Brands Inc. (CSE: SHRM) (OTCQB: SHRMF) (FWB: 496) think about the additional steps that their counterparts in Missouri have to go through before getting their operations started.
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