Here’s a News-Leader FAQ about the proposed rules for dispensaries. The state must finalize all medical marijuana rules by June 4, according to the timeline for implementing medical cannabis under Amendment 2.
How many dispensaries will Missouri have in early 2020?
The number of dispensaries, 192, hasn’t changed since the constitutional amendment took effect 30 days after the November election. Some, like Springfield attorney Bob Sweere, have argued that the amendment’s minimum license numbers should not also be maximums. The state’s draft rules now say that there will be 192 Missouri dispensaries where qualifying patients and caregivers can buy marijuana “unless the department determines the limit must be increased” to meet patient demand.
Will they be spread around the state?
Yes. The rules cite the amendment’s requirement to have at least 24 dispensaries in each of the state’s eight congressional districts, as the district boundaries were drawn on Dec. 6, 2018, when the amendment took effect.
But the rules also say “this rule does not incorporate any subsequent amendments or additions to the congressional district boundary lines.” It’s unclear what would happen in terms of dispensary locations if various regions around Missouri grow or shrink in population over the long term. Springfield has been growing; St. Louis has been declining.
If my business wins a state dispensary license, will one license allow me to operate more than one dispensary?
The proposed rules say “a facility license will be issued for a single facility in a single location.”
Combinations of licenses at the same location must be approved according to a set of draft regulations “for medical marijuana facilities generally” that were also posted on March 15. They state that “any entity under substantially common control, ownership, or management” can hold no more than three cultivation licenses, three manufacturing licenses and five dispensary licenses.
What kind of requirements will the state require for dispensary employees?
The state proposes that dispensaries must train all of their employees in security measures and controls to prevent theft or loss of medical marijuana, along with illegal uses.
Dispensaries would also be required to have emergency procedures in place for events like severe weather, fires, natural disasters and unauthorized intrusions.
Employees will also need to know the differences in the effects and effectiveness of different strains of the cannabis plant and methods for using them. They’ll also need to be able to recognize “signs of medical marijuana abuse in patients.”
Will dispensaries have to obey HIPAA?
Yes. Patient medical marijuana information would be confidential, under the draft rules.
Will dispensaries be responsible for checking medical marijuana ID cards?
Yes. Dispensaries would need to verify the identity of qualifying patient cardholders and patient caregiver cardholders. Dispensaries will also be expected to verify “purchase limitations” on medical cannabis. Doctors can certify a patient for up to 4 ounces of cannabis a month under Amendment 2. (That’s a lot. Illegal street deals are frequently for an eighth- or quarter-ounce.)
What kind of patient education will Missouri’s dispensaries need to do?
Everyone who buys medical marijuana will get patient education materials that include local resources to address addiction problems, say the proposed rules. They’ll also get the phone number for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Helpline and the phone number for the closest poison control center.
Dispensaries will also give out materials with information about the different cannabis strains available at that dispensary and their effects, under the proposed rules.
Another proposed requirement would be for dispensaries to share information about the “effectiveness of various methods, forms, and routes of administering medical marijuana” along with risks and side effects.
Dispensaries would be required to remind patients and caregivers that consuming marijuana in public is still prohibited under Amendment 2.
Will I need to show a qualifying patient ID card to buy medical marijuana?
Yes. You’ll also need to show a separate government-issued photo ID. And if you’re buying plants or seeds, you’ll also need to show a state-issued patient cultivation ID card.
How will dispensary thefts be handled?
If a dispensary experiences theft or attempted theft of marijuana by any qualifying patients or caregivers, the facility would have to file a report with DHSS within 24 hours.
Who will be able to enter a Missouri dispensary, and how?
Dispensaries would have to have just one access point — with no medical marijuana accessible in that area — where “facility agents” would screen for qualifying patient and caregiver ID cards.
Beyond the access point, only qualifying patients and caregivers could enter, unless a patient asks for up to two more people to accompany them for support.
The proposed rules mandate that “in any limited access area” where medical marijuana is present, the dispensary can only allow a number of patients and caregivers “equal to the number of staff available to serve those individuals at that time.” It’s not clear what that means as far what the exact ratio of patients to staff would be.