MO announces lottery results for marijuana microbusinesses

MO announces lottery results for marijuana microbusinesses
MO announces lottery results for marijuana microbusinesses
Published: Aug. 29, 2023 at 8:49 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) -- The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has begun the process of awarding licenses to prospective small-scale cannabis operations.

In early August, the state announced that it had collected more than 1600 microbusiness applications statewide for dispensary and wholesale businesses. Under the new program, the state will allow just six per congressional district. Four of the six will be microdispensaries.

On Monday, DHHS published a list of lottery winners and began the process of reaching out to the applicants. The results for US Congressional District 1 showed that 121 applications had been filed for dispensaries, and another 21 had been submitted for wholesale/growing operations.

The state had not yet published the names of the awardees. An attached summary of the lottery results clarified that the top names drawn would not automatically earn a license.

“The Department will review the top-drawn applicants to verify the information within the application is complete and demonstrates eligibility for a microbusiness license. During this review, the Department may request additional information or documents be provided by the applicant before a license is issued,” it read.

The microlicense program was designed to bring new entrepreneurs into the industry, especially those who lacked the capital to start a traditional dispensary after the state legalized cannabis use.

Some businesses and people involved in the industry have criticized the program, however, because of the restrictions on the microbusiness license.

Lila Waier, the owner of the Grow Gear supply shop in Lindwood Hills, said she is skeptical that the businesses operating under the microlicense program will be able to turn a profit because of the program’s structure.

“This isn’t a marketplace that’s based on excellence or merit. It’s you winning a lottery, and then you’re at the mercy of the other lottery winners,” Waier said.

The businesses must also operate within a closed system, with microwholesale operations only able to sell directly to microdispensaries. Wholesale operations are also limited to 250 flowering plants, which Waier believes will not yield a good return on investment.

“They’re definitely limited in how well they can do,” she said.

Some industry leaders have compared marijuana microbusinesses to craft brewing operations in that they will operate in somewhat niche markets and depend on customers willing to pay a premium for specialty or boutique products.

“Pay attention to who’s behind that brands so you can give dollars to who you want to support,” she recommended.