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Obtaining a Cannabis Dispensary License in Missouri: A Comprehensive Guide

Missouri has come a long way since the legalization of medical marijuana in 2018, and now, with the recent introduction of adult-use cannabis, the state’s marijuana market is thriving. To be part of this growing industry, entrepreneurs are eager to obtain a cannabis license and establish a medical marijuana facility. But what does it take to successfully navigate the licensing process? Read this blog post because the 2nd round of the application period for microbusiness licenses in Missouri spans from April 15, 2024 to April 29, 2024.

Introduction

The cannabis industry in Missouri is booming, and the opportunity to join the green rush in this flourishing market has never been more accessible. Whether you’re an experienced entrepreneur or a newcomer looking to make a mark, learning how to get a cannabis license in Missouri is a step toward success. This blog post will guide you through the process, from understanding the history of legalization to navigating local regulations and taxes. So, are you ready to dive into the world of cannabis in Missouri? Let’s get started!

History of Adult-use Cannabis Legalization in Missouri

The journey to cannabis legalization in Missouri started in 2018, with the passing of Amendment 2, which legalized medical marijuana. Fast forward to December 2022, and recreational marijuana was legalized for adults aged 21 and over, marking a significant milestone for the state’s cannabis industry. Adult-use cannabis sales commenced in February, and with over 200 dispensaries now operating, the market is thriving, bringing in staggering revenues that benefit various state programs and services.

Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) oversees the state’s medical marijuana program and is responsible for the allocation of revenue from the program. The funds are directed towards:

  • Offsetting DHSS expenses
  • Expunging marijuana-related offenses
  • Providing services for veterans
  • Supporting the public defender system
  • Distributing to local governments that have added a tax

With the cannabis industry in Missouri experiencing rapid growth, now is the perfect time to join the market and contribute to this flourishing sector.

Missouri Cannabis Licensing Lottery Overview

How to open a dispensary in MissouriTo ensure a fair and unbiased distribution of cannabis licenses in Missouri, the state has adopted a lottery system for the selection process. This approach levels the playing field, giving all eligible applicants an equal chance of securing a license. Keep in mind, that individuals already engaged in a medical, comprehensive, or microbusiness license cannot apply for a new microbusiness facility license in Missouri.

The application period for microbusiness licenses in Missouri spans from April 15, 2024 to April 29, 2024, and the selection process involves a random lottery drawing. So, if you qualify as a Social Equity applicant and are interested in entering the cannabis industry in Missouri, please reach out to us! We’ll help you get started and win a license!

With a total of 48 microbusiness licenses projected to be issued in 2024 and 48 in 2025, there will be ample opportunities for entrepreneurs to pursue their cannabis business dreams in Missouri.

Types of Cannabis Licenses

Missouri offers two main types of cannabis licenses: microbusiness and comprehensive licenses. Microbusiness licenses cater to small-scale cannabis businesses, allowing them to operate within the industry. These licenses are designed to promote diversity and inclusivity in the cannabis market, giving opportunities to individuals who meet specific eligibility criteria, such as being a service-disabled veteran or having a prior cannabis conviction for themselves or a family member.

On the other hand, a comprehensive license is designed for larger-scale cannabis operations, including:

Cannabis Dispensary License

  • Purpose: Retail sale of marijuana to consumers and patients.
  • Eligibility Criteria: Compliance with state requirements, including background checks and financial stability.
  • Operational Guidelines: Adherence to Missouri’s cannabis program regulations.
  • Compliance Requirements: Health and safety regulations, patient privacy laws, and accurate record-keeping.
  • Market Analysis: Understanding patient demographics and qualifying medical conditions in Missouri.

Under Missouri law, those who wish to open a dispensary must first obtain a license from the state. In order to be eligible for a license, applicants must demonstrate that they have adequate premises for the dispensary, a business plan that meets state requirements, and the necessary capital to operate the business.

No matter the license type being sought, applicants need to satisfy the eligibility criteria and abide by state regulations to enhance their likelihood of obtaining a cannabis license in Missouri.

Eligibility Criteria for Cannabis Licenses

Applicants interested in applying for a Missouri cannabis license must meet certain qualifications. Being one of any of the criteria below will allow you to join the Cannabis License Lottery.

  • Must have a net worth of less than $250,000
  • Have a service-connected disability card
  • Be a person who has been, or a person whose parent, guardian or spouse has been arrested for, prosecuted for, or convicted of a non-violent marijuana offense.
  • Reside in one of the zip codes classified by the State of Missouri as “disadvantaged areas”

These requirements are critical for the seamless operation of the organization and its testing facilities.

The Application Process

Now that you’re familiar with the eligibility criteria for obtaining a cannabis license in Missouri, it’s time to delve into the application process. This process involves completing the necessary forms, paying the required fees, and submitting the appropriate documentation.

The following subsections will guide you through the application process, including the application form and fees, necessary documentation, and the application timeline and selection process. By following these steps and ensuring proper preparation, you can increase your chances of success in obtaining a cannabis license in Missouri.

Application Form and Fees

To apply for a cannabis license in Missouri, you’ll need to complete the appropriate application form, which requires details about the applicant, their business, and the proposed cannabis business. The fees for applying for a cannabis license in Missouri depend on the type of license being applied for.

The dispensary license application can be submitted online, and the associated licensing fees must be included. It’s crucial to be aware of the timeline for submitting the application form and fees, as well as any supplementary documentation that may be required. Below is a sample breakdown of these fees, which are essential for budgeting and financial planning.

How much does it cost to open a dispensary in Missouri?

Opening a dispensary in Missouri can be a lucrative business venture, but it involves a significant financial investment. The cost of opening a dispensary in Missouri can vary widely depending on several factors, including location, size, and the regulatory requirements set forth by the state.

One of the most significant costs associated with opening a dispensary in Missouri is the application fee, which depends as in the following table: 

Fee Type

New Application

Renewal Fee

Annual Fee

Comprehensive Cultivation Facility

$12,000.00

$12,000.00

$25,000.00

Comprehensive Dispensary Facility

$7,000.00

$7,000.00

$10,000.00

Comprehensive  Manufacturing Facility

$7,000.00

$7,000.00

$10,000.00

Laboratory Testing

 $5,000.00

$5,000.00

$5,000.00

Seed to Sale

$5,000.00

$5,000.00

Transportation

$5,000.00

 $5,000.00

$5,000.00

Microbusiness Dispensary

$1,500.00

$1,500.00

$1,500.00

Microbusiness Wholesale

 $1,500.00

 $1,500.00

$1,500.00

Personal Cultivation Registration Cards

 $100.00

  $100.00

Facility Agent

  $75.00

 $75.00

Comprehensive Conversion Fee

$2,000.00

Other costs associated with opening a dispensary in Missouri include real estate, equipment, inventory, security measures, and employee salaries. The cost of real estate can vary widely depending on the location and size of the dispensary, as well as the zoning requirements set forth by the state. The cost of equipment and inventory can vary significantly. This depends on the type and amount of products that will be sold.

Security measures are an essential component of opening a compliant dispensary in Missouri and can include surveillance systems, security guards, and secure storage areas. The cost of implementing these measures will depend on the size and location of the dispensary, as well as the regulatory requirements set forth by the state.

Required Documentation

In addition to the application form and fees, a successful cannabis license application in Missouri requires certain documentation. For instance, blueprints and floor plans of the proposed business are necessary. Moreover, a valid driver’s license or state identification card is accepted as a form of identification.

Cannabis dispensaries in Missouri must also employ detailed security measures and controls to prevent diversion, inversion, theft, or loss of marijuana, as well as document any significant inventory changes. Ensuring all required documentation is submitted with your application will help improve your chances of obtaining a cannabis license in Missouri.

Application Timeline and Selection Process

The second round for microbusiness licenses opens April 15th-29th. Thinking of applying? Check the social equity criteria to see if you qualify for a boost in the lottery! This is your chance to be part of Missouri’s growing cannabis industry. #MOCannabis #SocialEquity. Understanding the application timeline and lottery process for cannabis licenses in Missouri is vital for a successful application. 

Tips for a Successful Cannabis License Application

Now that you have a better understanding of the process and requirements for obtaining a cannabis license in Missouri, it’s time to focus on the tips that can help make your application successful. These tips will cover creating a strong business plan, implementing compliance and security measures, and assembling a qualified team.

The following subsections will provide a more in-depth look into each of these aspects and offer actionable advice to aid you in submitting a successful cannabis license application in Missouri. By following these tips and ensuring proper preparation, you can increase your chances of success in obtaining a cannabis license in the state.

Strong Business Plan

A comprehensive business plan is essential for a successful cannabis license application. Your business plan should include:

  • Strategies for remaining competitive
  • Measures to prevent diversion to the illicit market
  • Details about vendors
  • Supply chain management solutions

Moreover, your business plan should incorporate initiatives for social responsibility, such as providing access to low-income patients and producing a positive economic impact on the local community. A strong business plan not only demonstrates your ability to run a successful cannabis business but also showcases your commitment to social equity and responsible business practices.

Compliance and Security Measures

Compliance and security measures are integral components of a successful cannabis license application. Strict adherence to state regulations and the implementation of a seed-to-sale point of sale system in a cannabis dispensary are key to maintaining compliance and running a responsible business.

Additionally, it’s essential to conduct regular inventory audits to ensure accurate tracking of inventory and prevent diversion to the black market. By implementing robust compliance and security measures, you can increase your chances of obtaining a cannabis license and establishing a successful business in Missouri’s cannabis industry.

Assembling a Qualified Team

Assembling a qualified team is crucial for increasing your chances of obtaining a cannabis license in Missouri. Team members should possess comprehensive knowledge and understanding of Missouri and local cannabis laws, demonstrate strong leadership skills, and have industry-wide product knowledge. Moreover, team members must comply with the residency requirements established by the state of Missouri.

Industry experience is particularly valuable when putting together a team for a cannabis license application in Missouri. Partners with cannabis industry experience can significantly increase the likelihood of obtaining a license, as they showcase knowledge and comprehension of the industry, which is critical for meeting the criteria and regulations set by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

Navigating Local Regulations and Taxes

Navigating local regulations and taxes is an essential aspect of operating a cannabis business in Missouri. Understanding and adhering to these regulations can help ensure the success of your business and prevent potential legal issues down the line.

The following subsections will cover local zoning and setback requirements, in addition to tax rates and their implications for cannabis businesses in Missouri. By staying informed and complying with local regulations and taxes, you can lay a solid foundation for your cannabis business’s success and growth.

Local Zoning and Setback Requirements

Local zoning and setback regulations play a significant role in where you can establish your cannabis business in Missouri. It’s important to consult with the relevant municipality regarding their zoning requirements and regulations concerning cannabis businesses.

In Missouri, cannabis dispensaries, including existing medical dispensaries, must be positioned at least 300 feet away from existing elementary or secondary schools, and all facilities must be located at least 1,000 feet away from churches, education sites (including daycares), and other cannabis businesses. By adhering to local zoning and setback requirements, you can ensure that your cannabis business is in compliance with local regulations and avoid potential legal issues.

Tax Rates and Implications

Understanding tax rates and implications is crucial for operating a successful cannabis business in Missouri. The tax rate for adult-use cannabis sales in Missouri is 6% and Medical marijuana is taxed at a lower rate of 4%. Additionally, cannabis businesses in Missouri are obligated to file and pay their marijuana tax monthly.

Cannabis businesses may also be subject to additional local taxes, which vary depending on the jurisdiction. It’s important to research and understand the specific tax rates and implications for your cannabis business in Missouri, as this can help you plan your finances and ensure compliance with all applicable tax regulations.

Expansion of License Types and Availability

In anticipation of the growing cannabis market in Missouri, there is potential for the expansion of license types and availability in the future. As the state continues to issue microbusiness licenses and other types of cannabis licenses, entrepreneurs should remain informed about these opportunities and the specific requirements associated with each license type.

By staying informed of the latest updates and expansions on licensing, you can position your cannabis business for success in the ever-evolving Missouri cannabis market. Keep an eye on the Missouri Division of Cannabis Regulation for the most recent information on cannabis licensing and be prepared to seize new opportunities as they arise.

Experts Insights

Cannabis Industry experts significantly assist aspiring entrepreneurs in navigating the process of obtaining a cannabis license in Missouri. Their insights and expertise can help navigate the complex licensing process, ensuring a successful application.

A cannabis industry lawyer who has a consulting firm like Thomas Howard can provide professional consultation and guidance on the application process for obtaining a cannabis microbusiness license in Missouri. We’ve won a Cannabis License for our Clients in the past lottery, we’re confident that we can do the same to your team!

Conclusion

In conclusion, obtaining a cannabis license in Missouri is a significant opportunity for entrepreneurs looking to enter this thriving market. By understanding the history of legalization, eligibility criteria, application process, and local regulations and taxes, you can increase your chances of success in obtaining a cannabis license. Additionally, seeking expert insights, creating a strong business plan, implementing compliance and security measures, and assembling a qualified team will further improve your chances. Stay informed, be prepared, and seize the opportunities that the Missouri cannabis market has to offer.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can anyone open a dispensary in Missouri?

In order to open a dispensary in Missouri, you must be a resident for at least one year and be at least 21 years old. Therefore, anyone who meets these criteria is eligible to open a dispensary.

What are the different types of cannabis licenses in Missouri?

In Missouri, there are four different types of cannabis licenses: medical marijuana cultivation facility license, dispensary facility license, infusions products manufacturing facility license, and testing facility license.

How do I get a Budtender license in Missouri?

To obtain a Budtender license in Missouri, you need to provide a copy of an employment offer from a licensed facility, valid government ID, digital photo, and $75 fee.

How much does it cost to open a dispensary in Missouri?

Opening a dispensary in Missouri requires an estimated start-up cost of between $85,000 and $150,000. This covers license fees, land acquisition, retail security, POS system, wholesale product procurement, staff, taxes, and other related expenses.

What is the process for obtaining a cannabis license in Missouri?

To obtain a cannabis license in Missouri, applicants must apply for a license through the DHSS, submit paperwork, and participate in the lottery.

About the Author

Tom Howard, Cannabis Industry Lawyer and Consultant has practiced commercial law since 2008 when he graduated law school and got his Series 7 & 66 Securities licenses. He pivoted to practicing litigation for financial institutions before helping cannabis teams form, capitalized and get licensed. He has concentrated in cannabis business since Illinois legalized in 2019. He won licenses for clients in Illinois, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Mexico, Massachusetts, Missouri and has gotten into lotteries in Ohio, Maryland and Maine. He became a Certified Ganjier in 2021. He chairs the ISBA’s section council for Cannabis Law in 2023.

Additional Resources & Websites that’ll help you get a dispensary license in Missouri

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Thomas Howard

Licensed to practice since 2008, Thomas Howard has represented numerous financial institutions in litigation to enforce their security interests.
Homegrown Cannabis Co's Cannabis Seeds
Picture of Thomas Howard

Thomas Howard

Licensed to practice since 2008, Thomas Howard has represented numerous financial institutions in litigation to enforce their security interests.

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