Missouri marijuana regulators begin preparation for adult use legalization
With adult use officially on the ballot for November, and currently polling above 60% in favor of legalization, Missouri’s marijuana regulators may soon be tasked with folding in new requirements and developing new regulations as the state’s constitution is amended to allow adults age 21 and over to purchase marijuana.
But one key difference between the implementation of medical marijuana and adult use, Missouri already has a regulating body and leadership established this time around.
When medical marijuana passed in November of 2018, there was no regulating body, no existing employees, no leadership or infrastructure – there was only an amendment to the state’s constitution with guidelines and deadlines.
In 2022, as the state looks forward toward the potential legalization of marijuana beyond medical use, there is an abundance of knowledge and support that simply did not exist previously.
“One thing we certainly will do, as we did with the medical program, is we will accept and consider public input on how the new law should be implemented,” explained Lyndall Fraker, Director of the Section for Medical Marijuana Regulation.
On Thursday, the Department of Health and Senior Services Section for Medical Marijuana Regulation did just that, launching an online form designed to gain feedback and public input on the implementation of Amendment 3.
“If Amendment 3 passes in November, it will require the Department to quickly make adjustments to the existing medical marijuana program and implement a new adult consumer program. Because of this, the Department will begin planning now for these potential changes. As was the case in implementing the medical marijuana program, the Department will accept and consider carefully public input on how the new law should be implemented in Missouri,” reads the online notice.
When medical marijuana was legalized in 2018, SMMR leadership traveled the state, hosting a series of forums and inviting in-person feedback. During rule promulgation and the creation of regulations, the Department hosted public panels, allowing anyone to observe the process and understand first-hand what was to come.
While those steps are not likely to be identical with existing rules and regulations in place to work off of, SMMR has maintained a level of transparency and public interaction that few regulatory bodies have, and unlike what most in the legal cannabis industry have seen in other states.
Fraker told Greenway that while the bulk of the SMMR staff is not currently allocated to an evaluation of Amendment 3 and adult use, members of the Department’s Operations, Budgetary, and General Counsel teams are working taking time to prepare accordingly.
“We have begun the planning process for any potential changes that may occur,” Fraker said. The amendment will carry significant changes for the medical marijuana program as well as the legalization of adult use, with fees, license lengths, allotments, and a plethora of other regulatory tweaks to the medical program all constitutionally mandated should the amendment pass, the Department is doing its due diligence by evaluating how to best handle potential changes to an existing program while simultaneously expanding and creating a new market.