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Who is seeking to sell medical marijuana in Missouri? No comment, state says

Who is seeking to sell medical marijuana in Missouri? No comment, state says

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JEFFERSON CITY • Because of a line of text now enshrined in the state Constitution, state health officials will not disclose the identities of those who have paid licensing fees required to grow and distribute medical marijuana in Missouri.

The Department of Health and Senior Services has denied two Post-Dispatch requests for copies of forms filed with licensing fees. The department began on Jan. 5 accepting licensing fees and the forms that accompany the payments.

“We cannot give you individual applications,” said Dr. Randall Williams, the director of the DHSS, citing the text of Amendment 2, which voters approved on Nov. 6.

DHSS is in charge of implementing and administering the program.

“The department shall maintain the confidentiality of reports or other information obtained from an applicant or licensee containing any individualized data, information, or records related to the licensee or its operation,” the constitutional provision in question reads, in part.

John Payne, the campaign manager for New Approach Missouri, the group that successfully pushed for medical marijuana legalization, said the provision was designed to keep sensitive information private.

“The language was included in Amendment 2 to keep the medical information of patients confidential, as well as sensitive information from applicants, such as security plans and financials, private,” he said in a statement.

But, he said, “We wouldn’t necessarily expect all of the application to be closed. For instance, we don’t see any reason the name of the applicants wouldn’t be public.”

Williams said that despite the provision, the department has received numerous inquiries about the records.

Officials plan to release aggregate information later this week about the number of companies that have so far submitted licensing fees.

Any entity seeking to open a cultivation facility must pay a $10,000 application fee to the agency. Any entity seeking to distribute medical marijuana or manufacture medical marijuana-infused products must pay a $6,000 application fee.

Though companies are allowed to prepay licensing fees now, official applications for licenses will not be accepted until August, according to the state.

Missouri became the 33rd state to legalize medical marijuana in November after 65 percent of voters approved Amendment 2, the most popular of three medical marijuana ballot initiatives. Shops are expected to open early next year.

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