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If You Play by the New Approach Missouri Marijuana Licensing Rules, You Will Lose

One major point of the recently released Cannabis Consumers Coalition report on Missouri's medical marijuana political history is that the license caps in the New Approach Missouri Constitutional amendment come from years of work by a small group of connected insiders to control the medical marijuana market. As early as 2015, Jack Cardetti, John Payne, and their associates were openly talking about their ability to bring in campaign donors relative to the amount of competition in the prospective market and the need to create caps on licenses.

In an interview last year with the Columbia Tribune, New Approach Board Chairman Dan Viets explicitly acknowledged that the scoring process he helped create would result in "...a fairly arbitrary selection. Many of these people are going to be as well qualified as others.”

What did matter, as numerous news outlets and the CCC report have demonstrated, was an ability to pay the right consultants (like Canna Advisors) join the right trade association (MOCannTrade) and hire the right lobbyist (Steve Tilley). The fix was in, and ordinary Missourians hoping for entrepreneurial success were out.

Currently, 853 applicants have appeals pending with the Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission. These appeals are projected to not be resolved for several more months, as approved licensees open up and hit the market with high prices and mediocre product. While rejected applicants continue to spend money and resources navigating the appeals process, the New Approach Missouri/Legalize 2022 campaign is mobilizing for a recreational marijuana ballot initiative to give current medical marijuana licensees first access to the recreational marijuana market.

Imagine you're a medical marijuana license applicant appealing a denial with the Administrative Hearing Commission. Your appeal won't be heard or resolved until mid 2021 likely, and then if you win and get approved to move forward you still have to go through a year/year-and-a-half long process to build out and get approved to hit the market. By this time, recreational marijuana licenses will be allocated to the operators in the medical marijuana market before you who have had 2 years to establish revenue stream and profits.

This is by design. The appeals process is designed to tie people up and force them to spend money that otherwise might be spent lobbying the Missouri General Assembly to act. At this point it's clear, from both the history of marijuana policy in the legislature and the vigorous bipartisan investigation into the licensing controversy, that creating a level playing field for marijuana commerce is politically popular and noncontroversial.

But this won't happen if people continue to play by the rules that Jack Cardetti and his cronies came up with.

Email to see what we're doing to change this system.

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