During a panel appearance at the Missouri Cannabis Trade Association’s quarterly meeting on Tuesday, Division of Cannabis Regulation Deputy Director Amy Moore spoke about a change in culture and policy within DCR, newly adapted branding for what was formerly called the Section for Medical Marijuana Regulation.

While Moore didn’t point to any specific rules or language, her comments made clear the process and thought behind some of the language and restriction in draft rules released just days after the passage of Amendment 3, legalizing marijuana possession for adults over 21 and with it legalizing adult use sales at dispensaries.

When draft rules were first released on November 10, and in the days that followed, many Missouri marijuana companies were flummoxed as to the language and the increased level of restriction. One of the most discussed and prominent examples of the increased restrictions on industry operators comes in packaging design regulations that read, “All marijuana product packaging, including exit packaging, may only utilize a single color and a single logo or symbol of a different color or colors, provided the logo or symbol is no larger than one inch in length and one inch in height.”

Many industry participants were quick to point out that the packaging requirements for adult use were becoming more restrictive than those that had governed the medical marijuana program through more than two years of retail sales and over $500 million in revenue.

Moore’s comments Tuesday lend a better understanding to those changes and the Division’s perspective in rulemaking.

“As we are writing these rules, we are looking at the law for ‘what does it very clearly say that we have to do?” Moore said. “When there may be some gray area and we have to make a judgment call on what we are supposed to be doing, we try to go back to the purpose of the law.”

“Last time, it was patient access, and so if we hit a point where we needed to figure out what to do – or needed to make a judgment call – we tried to think back to patient access and some other values that were given to us in the constitution. We’re doing the same thing here and it’s a little bit of a shift, we do still have patients and that is a very important part of this law but we have also, in Section 2, where the majority of our licensees will be operating and where we have to have rules for them to operate – there is a new purpose statement given to us.”

“How I would describe what’s written there in those purpose statements and values throughout the law is public safety and public health,” Moore said. “If you look at that purpose statement at the beginning of the new Section 2 about adult use, it says that the purpose is to make cannabis legal for 21 and up while protecting public health.”

“This focus, specifically on public health, is not a focus of a lot of other states,” Moore said.

The section Moore refers to reads as, “The purpose of this section is to make marijuana legal under state and local law for adults twenty-one years of age or older, and to control the commercial production and distribution of marijuana under a system that licenses, regulates, and taxes the businesses involved while protecting public health. The intent is to prevent arrest and penalty for personal possession and cultivation of limited amounts of marijuana by adults twenty-one years of age or older; remove the commercial production and distribution of marijuana from the illicit market; prevent revenue generated from commerce in marijuana from going to criminal enterprises; prevent the distribution of marijuana to persons under twenty-one years of age; prevent the diversion of marijuana to illicit markets; protect public health by ensuring the safety of marijuana and products containing marijuana; and ensure the security of marijuana facilities. To the fullest extent possible, this section shall be interpreted in accordance with the purpose and intent set forth in this section.”

Eric Walter, a partner at Armstrong Teasdale and one of the most prominent attorneys in the cannabis industry, served as moderator during the panel. As Moore concluded her statements Walter encouraged industry participants, “(DCR) is very analytical and they are breaking down Amendment 3 and are applying it as written.”

“I would encourage everyone to take the approach that if you have comments and you believe that the rules should be written a certain way, wanting it isn’t enough,” Walter continued. “You need to look at Amendment 3 and see if it speaks to that topic and if it does you have to prepare your ideation in a way that complies.”

The post Increased restrictions are a product of a change in purpose for Missouri cannabis regulators appeared first on Greenway Magazine.

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