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COVID-19 ‘a bit of a speed bump’ to Missouri medical marijuana industry

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — One industry that does not qualify for SBA loans are those in the medical marijuana business.

This week, KOLR 10 reporter Jesse Inman checked in with someone who works with those trying open their medical cannabis businesses in Missouri about effects they’re seeing right now.

The director of the program at the state level says COVID-19 could be a bit of a speed bump, but it shouldn’t delay things too much.

Earlier this year, The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services awarded licenses to all the businesses that will be part of the medical marijuana industry.

Lyndall Fraker is the director of the program for the Show Me State, and he says right now, they’re getting their checklists ready for buidlings.

“When these licenses facilities tell us that they’re ready for their commencement inspections, then we’ll have our compliance team ready to go in and walk through their facilities, to make sure they’re up and running and ready,” Fraker said. “Similar to what a building inspector might do.”

Fraker says they haven’t gotten calls for businesses that are ready for inspection quite yet.

MOCANN Trade Board Member Chip Sheppard is an attorney that represents businesses in almost all sectors except for testing facilities, which what his clients are waiting on.

“Their dispensaries should be ready to open by the end of May or June, but they’ve got to wait for the Department of Health to allow that to happen, and they’ve got to have product,” Sheppard said. “There are 10 testing facilities in Missouri. Only one of them thinks they will be open by the second quarter. You can’t put any medicine in the facilities until it’s tested.”

The “Stay at Home” order in Missouri could be a hitch in getting compliance checks done. But, once cultivators get their facilities approved, it will take about 90 days for plants to mature. If testing facilities are ready by then, Fraker says the earliest we could see product on shelves.

“I think the realistically now we’re looking somewhere maybe August to be able to have product ready to go for the patients,” Fraker said.

Of course that doesn’t mean all will be open by August, just the ones who are ready.

Fraker says he thinks the state is doing a good job keeping things moving to the best of their ability right now, and he says the good thing for businesses is that most aren’t quite far enough along to have to do mass layoffs.

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