Republic, Mo. — A federal judge recently eliminated the residency requirement for Medical Marijuana dispensaries, cultivators, and manufacturers.
“Amendment 2 was structured for the residents of Missouri,” Co-Owner of Easy Mountain Drew Biene said. “It was for Missouri businesses. It was structured was Missouri business owners. They made sure that 51 percent of ownership of any of these enterprises are Missouri residents.”
Now, multi-state operators can open and operate in the state.
“Out of state interest, some of their applications they couldn’t prove that they were over 51 percent Missouri residency,” Biene said. “They felt it was discriminating them from being able to operate. They got in front of a federal judge who then got rid of that.”
There are only so many licenses given out for dispensaries, cultivators, and manufacturers.
“The multi-state operators, for them to have an impact and profit out of Missouri, they’re going to have to come in and buy some existing licenses because there’s a finite number of licenses,” Chair of the Marijuana Law group at Carnahan Evans Chip Sheppard said. “There’s 62 cultivation licenses, 87 manufacturing licenses, and 192 dispensary licenses allowed.”
The original residency requirement means a majority of enterprises are locally owned.
“We see so many people that live right down the street from me or their kids go to school with my kids,” Biene said. “We see that familiarity, we see that community is something that’s holistic and healing.”
Easy Mountain is the sole dispensary in Republic. But, it’s not concerned about multi-state operators coming to plant some seeds.
“We’re facilitating something so special and unique,” Biene said. “We’re really not concerned about the big guys coming in and try to rock our boat they’re not playing our game.”
Right now there are 162 dispensaries approved to operate in the state with the cap at 192. But, this changes with every census.
“6 months ago the total number of cultivation licenses was capped at 60,” Sheppard said. “The department of health has the discretion to issue more licenses but there’s been no indication that they’re interested in doing that. It doesn’t behoove [multi-state operators] to go into a state and just have one dispensary. They’re going to go into a new state and probably max out the number of licenses they can have. They’ll want 3 cultivation licenses, 5 dispensary licenses.”
Purchasing those licenses from local mom-and-pop shops might not be an easy feat.
“[Multi-state operators] can cover a lot more space and they can cover a lot more ground,” Biene said. “But I’m going to ask you how your mom is doing. That’s just not something a corporation can offer very easily. They’re busy people. It’s not a slight. You’re taking on a bigger responsibility which means it’s less personable.”
Now it’s just a waiting game.
“Hopefully this is not going to have a negative impact on anybody that’s a small operator who wants to stay in the business,” Sheppard said, “They’ll still have a little customer base and I think there will still be people that buy Missouri and keep it here.”
Sheppard said the department of health pointed out it does not plan to appeal the decision to remove the residency requirement. However, the department of health has 40 days from when they signed to change its minds.