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Missouri posts final rules for medical marijuana

Missouri posts final rules for medical marijuana

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Medical marijuana growing facility in New Jersey

In this Friday, March 22, 2019 photo, Heather Randazzo, a grow employee at Compassionate Care Foundation's medical marijuana dispensary, trims leaves off marijuana plants in the company's grow house in Egg Harbor Township, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Missouri has set its rules on medical marijuana. 

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the department tasked with regulating the industry, posted final rules on the department's website Friday, a move long awaited by people hoping to use, make or sell medical marijuana and related products. The rules take effect June 3, a day before the deadline by which the department was required by law to finalize its regulations.

Voters approved Amendment 2 in November, making Missouri the 33rd state to legalize marijuana for medical purposes and starting a stampede of business owners looking to capitalize on the new market. Sales of the various forms of the products are to start early next year and are expected to top $100 million by 2025. Tax proceeds and licensing fees are supposed to go into a newly created veterans health care fund, and are expected to generate about $20 million per year.

The rules posted Friday reflect changes made since the state published draft versions of the rules beginning in March and asked for public input. DSS received more than 500 comments with feedback, spokeswoman Lisa Cox said. 

The rules and applications aren't permanent. They will remain in effect through February, when they can be changed as necessary, or based on feedback, Cox said. The department will accept further public comment on the rules in July and hold a public hearing. 

Marijuana business hopefuls and people who want to use marijuana for medical purposes can start filling out application forms June 4; DSS will accept patient applications July 4 and business applications Aug. 3 through 17. Officials will have until Dec. 31 to score the business applications ahead of awarding licenses. 

The state has raked in at least $3.67 million in fees from 510 pre-filed application forms for licenses to produce or sell marijuana or marijuana-infused products. The state is keeping the filers’ identities secret. The Post-Dispatch has sued the state to release the applicants’ names.

Missouri is required by law to approve at least 60 commercial growers, 86 facilities that manufacture marijuana-infused products and 192 dispensary licenses — 24 dispensaries for each of Missouri’s eight congressional districts.

The St. Louis area will probably have more than 48 dispensaries. Two congressional districts cover St. Louis and St. Louis County and parts of St. Charles, Jefferson and Franklin counties.

Weekday updates on the latest news in the St. Louis business community.

Reporter covering breaking news and crime by night. Born in Algeria but grew up in St. Louis. Previously reported for The Associated Press in Jackson, Mississippi and at the Wichita Eagle in Wichita, Kansas.

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