The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) Office of Business Opportunity has released the results of the eligibility review for cannabis microbusiness licensees, a key step in the state’s initiative to involve marginalized or under-represented individuals in the legal marijuana market. This follows the passage of Amendment 3 in November 2022, which led to the introduction of microbusiness licenses for small businesses in this sector.

On October 2, 2023, the DHSS issued a total of 48 licenses, comprising 32 wholesale and 16 dispensary facilities. These licenses were designed to bolster participation in the marijuana market, especially among those previously under-represented.

Abigail Vivas, Chief Equity Officer, and her team conducted the eligibility review within the required 60 days of the license issuance. Completed on December 1, the review’s results are now available online. The report details the eligibility criteria cited by applicants and delineates between the licenses that were certified and those that were not. of the 48 awarded licenses 11 were not certified, 2 wholesale licenses and 9 dispensary licenses. Licenses not certified as eligible face potential revocation. In such cases, the licensees are given a 30-day period to provide evidence supporting their eligibility. If revoked, these licenses will be reintegrated into the pool for the next application phase.

DHSS is mandated to issue a minimum of 144 microbusiness licenses in all. By issuing the licenses, DHSS states that they have met their constitutional duty, despite the potential for uncertified licenses to be revoked.

The remaining licenses will be distributed in two separate lotteries, managed by the Missouri Lottery. The second of three total application rounds is tentatively scheduled to start in March 2024, with the licenses expected to be issued in July, any of the 11 licenses that are currently uncertified will be added into the application pool in March, according to the Office of Business Opportunity.

While DHSS and the Office of Business Opportunity have been successful in the launch an initial implementation of the microbusiness licenses to this point, the result of potentially losing 9 of the 16 available microbusiness dispensary licenses awarded in a staggered rollout could be calamitous for a niche cannabis industry looking to gain traction and market share.

Looking ahead, Missouri could see 30 wholesale microbusinesses come online with only 7 distribution points throughout the state, less than half of the anticipated number. For a sub-industry that is destined to create hyper locality and often sees success for its first-to-market participants, the potential loss of more than 50% of the available retail points for microbusiness wholesalers is a staggering thought.

The post More than half of awarded marijuana microbusiness dispensary licenses may not be eligible appeared first on Greenway Magazine.