Don’t hold your breath on SB600


So the Missouri House passed an amendment to lift caps on licensee groups. This has caused a lot of buzz in the cannabusiness community, some hate it, some love it. But is this bill, as amended, likely to become a reality? Improbable.

The original bill, sponsored by Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer of Parkville, provides that any person found guilty of, or pleading guilty to, the offenses of second-degree murder, any dangerous felony involving a deadly weapon, or dangerous felony where the person has been previously found guilty of a Class A or B felony or a dangerous felony shall not be eligible for probation, suspended imposition or execution of sentence, or a conditional release term, and shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment. The bill was previously amended to include provisions from SB 601 that modifies the punishment for the offense of armed criminal action by requiring violent offenders to serve 85% of their sentences prior to being eligible for parole and disallows sentences to run concurrently and SB 602, which modifies the definition of “street gang” in an attempt to address violent criminal behavior in both Kansas City and St. Louis.

And then the bill arrived in the House, where it is handled by Rep. Nick Schroer.

House members tacked on 19 amendments on SB600 Tuesday before the chamber eventually laid over the bill. One of the amendments, offered by southwest Missouri preacher and state Rep. Ben Baker, would raise the cap to constitutional minimums for applicant groups but maintain the 3/3/5 license type structure per applicant group.

“Section 1. The department shall rescind the limitations promulgated pursuant to 19 CSR 30- 95.050 (1)(A), 19 CSR 30-95.060 (1)(A) and 19 CSR 30-95.080 (1)(A)&(B) and issue licenses to all applicants who meet the minimum standards, those minimum standards being consistent with the factors and standards established pursuant to Article XIV of the Missouri Constitution, for a medical marijuana cultivation facility, medical marijuana-infused products manufacturing facility or a medical marijuana dispensary facility respectively, except: (1) No more than three medical marijuana cultivation facility licenses shall be issued to any entity under substantially common control, ownership, or management; (2) No more than three medical marijuana-infused products manufacturing facility shall be issued to any entity under substantially common control, ownership, or management; (3) No more than five medical marijuana dispensary facility licenses shall be issued to any entity under substantially common control, ownership, or management.”

SEE: Medical Marijuana cap lift amendment

The 19 amendments include language related to bingo, sex offender background checks, electronic monitoring, fentanyl, do-not-resuscitate orders for EMTs, the Second Amendment Preservation Act, unlawful use of weapons, stolen firearms, feral hogs, medical marijuana facility staff, removing “knuckles” as a regulated weapon, fireman residency, medical marijuana facility cap release, the Kratom Consumer Protection Act, and firearm serial number removal.

Cringe. That’s a lot – and that’s not typically, or legally, what legislation should look like. (Give Hammerschmidt vs. Boone County 1994 a Google if you don’t believe me.) But there are other factors in play here. Honestly, there are several factors working against Rep. Baker’s amendment, specifically, and SB 600, generally.

1. SB 600, as amended, is unconstitutional.  Our constitution requires legislators to introduce and pass bills that are limited to a single subject. Of the 19 House amendments adopted below, you’ll find different subjects.

2. Rep. Baker’s amendment has not received a hearing. There is a tradition in both chambers, especially in the Senate, that amendments need to be vetted in a hearing, especially in the current climate where most are working remotely. Sen. Luetkemeyer, SB 600 sponsor, is particularly devoted to this tradition. We advised Luetkemeyer immediately and we believe he will be helpful if and when SB 600 passes the House and returns to the Senate.


3. Rep. Taylor offered two gun amendments that Senate Democrats will likely find politically toxic.

Read: “Second Amendment Preservation Act”

Contrary to various social media reports, the House did not pass SB 600; rather, they laid it over, which means the House can go back to it anytime – or not at all. Often a bill is laid over because the floor leader discovers they don’t have the votes to pass the bill.

In fact, most of the (few) pro-cannabis representatives actually support Baker’s amendment under a free-market theory. Conversely, those who oppose Baker’s amendment are concerned that lifting license caps will flood the market with product and unqualified participants without sufficient funds to properly operate.

The lobbying effort has pivoted to the above procedural arguments to discourage the House from devoting more time to a bill that will die in the Senate or may not even have the votes to make it out of the House.

But, is there a path forward for the bill, as amended? Possible, but improbable. From being laid over, the House must take the bill back up and vote on it. After voting, below are the paths forward, which must be completed before May 15 while generally abiding by Sunshine laws.

  • Passed by House > Passed by Senate as is > Signed by Governor
  • Passed by House > Senate refuses to take up
  • Passed by House > Senate amends > Leadership chooses a conference committee > Conference committee revises bill to be passable by both chambers > Passed by both chambers > Signed by Governor

If signed, the bill has an emergency clause, expediting effectiveness. Due to likely Hammerschmidt violations, this bill, if passed with these 19 amendments, would likely end up being challenged in the courts. The bill has a mountain to climb in less than two weeks – but the battle of this bill wouldn’t end when the gavel drops and the legislature adjourns on May 15.


This is part of a weekly column series by Greenway Publisher Rachael Dunn.