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Applications For Medical Marijuana Facilities Pour In At Deadline

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has awarded licenses to 192 medical marijuana dispensaries in the state.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

With the deadline to submit an application for a medical marijuana business closed, more than 2,100 were received, bringing in more than $5.3 million in fees, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. 

On Thursday, the department announced it would extend the deadline to 4:30 p.m. Monday. Initially the cutoff was midnight Saturday, but with a slow start early in the application period, the department expected an influx toward the end. 

“We had learned over the application period that there was a lot of questions, a lot of people calling and asking for assistance with their application,” said program director Lyndall Fraker. “We wanted to give that full service to everyone, so we felt like moving it to a business day would help do that.”

The decision turned out to be a good one, Fraker said. When they made the decision to extend, the department had only received roughly 250 applications. On top of having the manpower, Fraker said they were also concerned the online system might crash. According to DHSS, the application system received more than 800 applications in the final 24 hours. 

According to the constitutional amendment that voters approved in November, the department has 150 days to approve or deny an application. Fraker said his team will look over each one to ensure all the necessary information is redacted to begin the so-called “blind scoring.” 

DHSS recently selected Wise Health Solutions, a Nevada company, to evaluate and score the applications. The company was in charge of business applications for medical marijuana in Nevada. 

The state plans to approve 60 cultivation facilities, 86 that make marijuana-infused products, 10 for testing, and 192 dispensaries — 24 for each congressional district. 

“We do sort of hope to get the testing facilities and cultivation facilities out first because they need to get that product out there, growing and tested,” Fraker said.

The state will pay Wise Health a set rate for each type of application: $940 for dispensing, $948 for manufacturing, $943 for cultivation and $1,172 for testing. The state will also pay the company for travel and lodging, on top of an hourly rate of $215 for consultation services. 

The state began accepting applications Aug. 3. The sale of medical marijuana and marijuana-infused products is not expected to begin until the spring of 2020.

Follow Jaclyn on Twitter: @DriscollNPR

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Jaclyn is the Jefferson City statehouse reporter for St. Louis Public Radio.