The Missouri House has approved a bill that would remove the cap on medical cannabis licenses in the state and would essentially allow any business owner to secure a license if they meet the minimum state requirements, KSHB reports. The measure comes as the chamber investigates the state’s handling of industry licensing.
The amendment was introduced by state Rep. Ben Baker (R) after listening to the investigation hearings by the House special committee. Baker did not vote to legalize medical cannabis in the state but told KSHB that he introduced the proposal because he doesn’t support monopolies.
“It was very clear it hasn’t been fair process, it hasn’t been transparent, and definitely not a competitive process. … It’ll be better in a lot of ways. It drives costs down and it helps to suppress the black market. And especially in a time when people are scrambling for jobs, it’s a job creator.” – Baker to KSHB
KC Stark, a local cannabis advocate and CEO of Cannabis Startup Incubator, said the amendment may be too little too late as rejected licensees had already spent thousands of dollars hoping for a license. Stark said many of those hopeful entrepreneurs may have already lost their rights to their lease and their personnel.
“People aren’t going to just sit there and hang on to an empty building or not wait for a job when you said you might have one,” Stark said in the report.
The Missouri House investigation is focused on reports of irregularities in how the license applications were scored and claims that the rules were changed in the middle of the process. A review by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch found that some two dozen groups, which each won five or more licenses, had ties to out-of-state cannabusinesses or the Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association. The trade association’s lobbyist in the capitol is Steve Tilley, a longtime lobbyist and advisor to Gov. Mike Parson (R), which has further called into question the legitimacy of the process.
In addition to Tilley, the House committee is seeking records from the governor’s chief of staff and chief operating officer.
Missouri’s legislative session ends Friday. The licensing reform measure heads next to the Senate.
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