Updated: Viets questions patient access amid hotline shutdown


Contact information on the website for Section for Medical Marijuana Regulation shows a disclaimer reading: Call Center closed until further notice

This week a letter authored by Dan Viets, a longtime cannabis advocate, chairman of the Amendment 2 campaign resulting in Article XIV and one of the amendment’s authors, was released by Missouri NORML.

The letter calls into question the lack of transparency surrounding the long-term shutdown of the Department of Health and Senior Services Section for Medical Marijuana Regulation’s Toll-Free Access Line. 

The toll-free number has been shut down for multiple months now with no explanation and no information regarding when or if the call center will resume receiving inbound calls. 

In addition to Viets’ inquiry of the Department, the letter also details claims of increasingly long turnaround times for patient applications and renewals. Patient applications must be processed within 30 days. 

Update: On Thursday. Greenway was contacted by representatives from the Department of Health and Senior Services Section for Medical Marijuana Regulation regarding Viets letter and statement. The Department provided Greenway with an email copy of the original letter from Viets as well as a reply dated two hours after the original letter was sent. The initial letter and reply exchange occurred two days prior to the Viets letter being posted on social media. Find the reply to immediately follow the letter from Viets. Viets stated he had not posted the letter to social media and that the staff member who did was unaware of the Department’s quick reply.

Read Viets’ full letter below:


Dear Mr. Knodell and Lyndall,

  I am writing to you on behalf of Missouri NORML, the Missouri Affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).  Missouri NORML and our Chapters across the state were instrumental in gathering signatures to place Amendment XIV, Missouri’s Medical Marijuana law, on the ballot in November of 2018, and in working for its passage. 

   We are concerned about the fact that there continues to be no option for patients to contact DHSS by telephone with questions about the Medical Marijuana Program.  There certainly are many patients who do not have access to e-mail communication and/or who are not adept at using it.  Having the option of speaking directly with someone at DHSS was a very useful option.  We hope that service will be restored as soon as possible.

   We are also concerned about the fact that we have seen a lot of reports recently from patients stating that the time required for a response from DHSS when patients attempt to qualify for the first time and/or renew their patient status has grown substantially in recent months.  While the responses are still technically within the letter of the law, it would be nice if the response time could be improved as it was until relatively recently. 

   We note that DHSS is authorized to use whatever funds are necessary in order to provide services of this nature to patients from the revenue derived from application fees and taxes on medical marijuana sales.  There should be no shortage of funding available to provide these important services to Missouri citizens who participate or wish to participate in the Medical Marijuana Program. 

  Thank you for your consideration of these matters. 


Dan Viets, J.D.


Missouri NORML Coordinator


Good Afternoon, Dan.

Lyndall is traveling at the moment and asked that I respond on his behalf. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to address your concerns. As you know, our program has always been patient-focused with a large portion of our employees focused on patient needs and assistance, so serving patients better is an ongoing goal for us at all times.

Regarding patients’ ability to reach us by phone, our call center was temporarily closed in order to focus our staff resources on processing patient and caregiver applications in order to ensure we were meeting the Constitutionally mandated 30-day processing time. Of course, this touches on your other concern regarding how long it takes for us to approve or deny a patient’s application. You are correct that processing time had reached an unusually high level, though we were always within the requirement. The increased processing time correlated to an increase in application submissions. I’m happy to report that our proactive step of temporarily closing the call center, among other things, had the desired result. For the past two weeks, we have been at 8-12 days processing time, which is lower than our average prior to the surge in applications. We are monitoring all relevant metrics, and barring any surprises, we believe we will be in a good position to reopen the call center before the end of July.

Again, thank you for reaching out.


Take care,

Amy E. Moore

Deputy Director and Counsel, Medical Marijuana

Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services

Jefferson City, MO 65102