On November 6, 2018, Missourians made a choice about the future of medical marijuana in the Show-Me State. Well, actually they made three.
The ballot asked voters in three separate questions if they wanted to legalize medical marijuana. Having two constitutional amendments and a proposition, all regarding this issue, on a single ballot was unprecedented among the 31 states where Mary Jane was already considered medicine. Passing with nearly 66% of the vote, Amendment 2—known as Article XIV—was the one that stuck.
Since then, the Department of Health and Senior Services has created the industry’s regulatory division, led by Marshfield native and former State Rep. Lyndall Fraker. Fraker and his team are responsible for registering patients and evaluating and certifying six commercial applicant types: cultivation, manufacturing, testing and dispensing facilities; transportation companies; and seed-to-sale tracking systems businesses must use to detect and discourage the diversion of legally grown pot into the illegal market.
Now, what started as three questions has led to a whole lot more: Who in southwest Missouri will be involved in the medical marijuana industry? How many patients want to use this new treatment option, and which doctors are willing to certify them? Now that weed is coming, is there an economic windfall in Missouri’s future? And just what ramifications will the industry have for businesspeople not involved in cannabis?
It’s easier to pin down some of these answers than others. To put it bluntly, there’s still a whole lot about the future of the state’s medical marijuana program that remains hazy.