Public feedback is one of the important factors in making sure the state of Missouri’s medical marijuana program doesn’t go up in smoke.
“The input we’ve received from folks around the state has been very, very valuable,” said Lyndall Fraker, who leads the Department of Health and Senior Services’ medical marijuana department.
Fraker said the process has been deliberately transparent and open because the “best ideas come from those on the ground.”
“Being very open and willing to listen to people has been extremely important in this process,” he said.
This week, the department is finishing up a series of hearings in which advisory committees are reviewing draft questions written by the department for medical marijuana facilities applications.
The public was able to provide input on each section’s questions up until two days before each hearing. The last one is at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
The constitutional amendment requires the department to issue a minimum of 340 licenses in the four categories of cultivation, manufacturing, testing and dispensaries.
“If we ended up with more applicants than we do the minimum licenses, and if we decide we want to stick with the minimums, we are supposed to come up with a scoring system that would be used in order to be able to determine who gets the licenses,” Fraker said.
Those applications will be available June 4, and will be accepted on Aug. 3. Fraker told ABC 17 News that the applicants will be anonymous and only the answers to their questions will factor into whether they receive a license.
Fraker said officials are developing two divisions within the medical marijuana department. The first deals with compliance, with inspectors and investigators ready to deal with facilities and licensing after the fact.
“We’ll certainly have the opportunity to revoke a license if they don’t fulfill the obligation they commit to on the application,” he said.
The second division will focus on patients, with employees who will answer calls and emails from those who have questions about their medical marijuana cards.
The public can still provide feedback on the deparment’s draft rules and regulations on medical marijuana. The rules will be final June 4.
Here is a link to the department’s website, which has more information on public input and where the department is at in terms of implementation.
Another hearing was set for Tuesday afternoon to deal with questions on the application relating to site security.
Check back for updates on this developing story.