Division of Cannabis Regulation hosts Licensee Workshop Series


The Missouri Division of Cannabis Regulation (DCR) held the first of a series of licensee workshops this week in St. Louis and Jefferson City, aiming to provide clarity and guidance to marijuana business operators across the state. With a packed agenda and a lineup of program speakers, the workshops served as an outlet for addressing common misconceptions and ensuring compliance with state regulations.

The next workshop is scheduled to take place in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, next week.

These events are part of an increasing effort by the DCR to attain a transparent, supportive, and well-regulated cannabis industry in Missouri.

A Lineup of Program Leader Speakers

The workshops featured a series of presentations by key figures from the DCR, including Lesley Turek, the new Chief Equity Officer; Andrea Balkenbush, the Division of Cannabis Regulation Deputy Director; and Brittany Kirkweg, the Deputy Director of the Section for Compliance & Enforcement.

Lesley Turek, who recently transitioned from the business licensing team to her new role as Chief Equity Officer of DCR, emphasized the importance of these workshops for both operational facilities and new micro-businesses. “This is just the first of many, and we really welcome your feedback at the end. What worked well, what would be more helpful to you? As we plan our next workshops, we can provide you all the best information that we can,” Turek said.

Key Topics Covered

Ownership Changes and Compliance

Turek kicked off the workshop by discussing the importance of maintaining up-to-date ownership records and understanding the various compliance requirements. She highlighted the use of the Ownership Reporting Tool (ORT), which was designed to streamline the process of recording ownership details.

“We often get applications and we’re like, they didn’t even need to submit this. I don’t know why they did this. A phone call would have solved our problem a little bit faster,” Turek noted, emphasizing the importance of efficient communication.

Turek also walked attendees through the process of documenting ownership changes, explaining the need for a visual representation that matches the ORT data.

“Knowing who has access to the online registration system is crucial. If you don’t know, find out. I am suggesting you have more than one person have access to that system,” she advised, highlighting the potential issues if the designated contact leaves the company without updating this information.

Turek had been with the business licensing section for 9 months prior to the promotion to the program’s constitutionally required role. Previously she was an educator. 

Product Compliance and Labeling

Justin Smith, Compliance Assessment Manager, focused on product compliance and labeling, an area that has seen significant updates with the implementation of rule extension deadline on September 1, 2023. Smith explained the item approval process and the importance of adhering to packaging and labeling requirements to ensure the health and safety of patients and consumers.


“Every final marijuana product that is going to be eventually sent to a dispensary and dispensed to patients and consumers has to go through this review process,” Smith said. He also discussed the different types of submissions—non-template items, template items, and template-based items—and the streamlined process for submitting template-based items. “We do highly recommend reading the rules, taking notes, and making sure whoever is doing your packaging and labeling submissions understands what is expected.”

Product producing facilities must have all packaging approved by DCR prior to September. So far, they have received over 76,000 requests, reviewed over 40,000 packages, and rejected over 10,000 packages. Each product package must be submitted to DCR through METRC, as well as via email. Several packaging approval team members were present. 

Investigations and Enforcement

Josh Stockman, Bureau Manager for the Bureau of Investigations and Enforcement, provided insights into how the DCR conducts investigations and the potential fines and penalties that can result from non-compliance. Stockman explained the different ways an investigation can be initiated, including through complaints, compliance issues identified during inspections, and referrals from other regulatory bodies.

“We are not setting out to bankrupt licensees. We are here to ensure a safe and compliant industry,” Stockman stated. He outlined the process for handling violations, from initial notices to potential fines and enforcement actions, and emphasized the importance of timely and transparent communication with the DCR.

Stockman is a newer member of the DCR team, saying he started in August. 

Emphasizing Communication and Collaboration

A recurring theme throughout the workshops was the importance of communication and collaboration between the DCR and licensees. Lesley Turek encouraged attendees to engage with the DCR staff present at the workshops and to use networking opportunities to build relationships. “We want our licensees to feel comfortable reaching out to us when they have questions because that is what we want our licensees to do,” she said.

Andrea Balkenbush echoed this sentiment, noting the value of these workshops for both the DCR and the licensees. “This is also a really great opportunity because I’m looking across the room and I see facilities that are operating but I also see some of our new micro-businesses here. I really, really appreciate you all being here, even though you’re not operational. You’re learning and you’re figuring it out,” she said.

Looking Ahead

As DCR continues its workshop series across Missouri, it aims to foster a well-informed and compliant cannabis industry. The upcoming workshop in Lee’s Summit is expected to build on the success of the initial sessions, offering further guidance and addressing additional concerns raised by licensees.

The DCR remains committed to supporting the growth and success of Missouri’s cannabis industry through education, clear communication, and robust regulatory oversight. Licensees are encouraged to participate actively in these workshops and to take advantage of the resources and support offered by the DCR. As Turek succinctly put it, “We are here to help you succeed while ensuring the safety and compliance of our industry.”

Approximately 40 DCR employees were present at the first two workshops.