Missouri cannabis regulators tighten operational deadline policies

Missouri cannabis regulators tighten operational deadline policies

Last week, the Missouri Division of Cannabis Regulation (DCR) released a new guidance document outlining significant changes to the previous approach to operational deadline extensions for cannabis licensees. This shift marks a more stringent approach by DCR towards compliance with operational timelines in the cannabis industry.

Understanding the New Operational Deadline Requirements

As per the updated regulations, all cannabis licensees in Missouri are required to be operational within one year of receiving their license or certification. This requirement extends to two years for microbusiness licensees. DCR’s previous leniency, largely influenced by the novelty of the cannabis industry and the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, seems to be tapering off. The guidance clearly states that licenses “may be revoked or sanctioned if not operational and active within the required time frame,” as per 19 CSR 100-1.100(4)(E).

DCR retains the discretion to grant operational deadline extensions for ‘good cause’ under 19 CSR 100-1.020(1)(A). However, the criteria for what constitutes a ‘good cause’ have become more stringent. Reasons that were previously adequate, such as industry novelty or COVID-19 related delays, may no longer be acceptable grounds for an extension. This change reflects DCR’s evolving perspective on the cannabis industry’s maturity and stabilization post-pandemic.

Process and Documentation for Variance Requests

Licensees seeking an extension must submit their requests before their current operational deadline. DCR emphasizes that no variance request will be approved without a written agreement from them. The required documentation for a variance request includes:

  • A completed Variance Request form with a specific operational commencement date.
  • A filled-out Variance Request Questionnaire.
  • Proof of payment for the $100.00 processing fee.
  • A detailed explanation and plan for the extension, including efforts to become operational on time, reasons for the delay, and a comprehensive strategy to meet the new deadline.
  • Supporting documentation to substantiate the variance request.

The new guidelines indicate a reduced likelihood of approval for extension requests. Licensees are urged to prepare for the possibility of denial and consequent license revocation. This change signifies DCR’s commitment to enforcing operational deadlines more rigorously than before, ensuring prompt and regulated growth in the state’s cannabis sector.