No commencement inspections scheduled – yet
Before any Missouri cannabis facility can open their business, they must pass a commencement inspection with the Department of Health and Senior Services. It is the final step before being cleared to plant any seeds, manufacture any products, or open their doors.
Per DHSS, before a commencement inspection takes place, licensees must “[w]ork with the Department to verify compliance with all minimum requirements for license/certification per Article XIV. Provide any requested documentation such as property ownership records, financial records, executed leases, management agreements, other contracts, and the like. The minimum requirements for license/certification include:
- Authorization to operate as a business in Missouri
- The entity is majority-owned by natural persons who have been residents of Missouri for at least one year
- The entity is not under substantially common control as another entity or a combination of other entities in violation of 19 CSR 20-95.040(3)(C)-(D)
- The entity is not within 1000 feet of an existing elementary or secondary school, daycare, or church, or, if a local government allows for closer proximity to schools, daycares, and churches, that the entity complies with the local government’s requirements
- Eligibility to operate in a local jurisdiction
- The entity will not be owned, in whole or in part, or have as an officer, director, board member, or manager, any individual with a disqualifying felony offense.
- Attend a mandatory orientation meeting tailored for each facility type to be held in early to mid-March.”
If a facility does not pass its commencement inspection within one year of being awarded their license, the license will be revoked and re-issued to the next ranked facility, as applicable. According to the department, no requests for commencement inspections have been made, except for one unnamed applicant who had not yet completed the verification process and therefore could not move forward with the inspection.
For those conditionally denied, appeals and hope may result in a license. For each facility that surrenders or fails to become operational within a year, a conditional license is awarded to the next facility applicant ranked. Though appeals may take up to 18 months to achieve any result, industry thought leaders believe 10-25 percent of conditional license awards will not be fulfilled, resulting in newly licensed facilities who must then fulfill the one-year operational requirements of the state.
The Administrative Hearing Commission is the organization in charge of hearing license appeals. Due to the 850 appeals that have been filed, the commission is looking at triple the workload to sort through each appeal. Appeals before the AHC go through a similar process – and timeline – of any other appeal type, meaning several months of legal work and some uncertainty surrounding the ability to fulfill the original application plan proposed originally.