Missouri investigation into state licensing process moves forward, as restrictions are imposed on edible shapes


Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Fears that medical cannabis edibles in Missouri may encourage young children to eat them have been weighing heavy on the minds of state lawmakers – and, likely parents – since the legal industry was made available to cardholders on January 1.

While it remains uncertain as to whether or not the bill banning medical cannabis edibles will prove effective as an attention deterrant among the young population, one thing is for sure: the bill demonstrates a need to address prospective issues with advertising/marketing efforts in Missouri’s cannabis market. 

Taking edibles out of the picture for a moment, Missouri lawmakers are focusing their attention on making sure criminal background checks are imposed more fiercely for individuals who are actively operating in the state’s legal cannabis market; such as  business owners, employees, managers and contractors. Lawmakers say that this technique will improve safety and consumer confidence.

Initially, the rollout of Missouri’s official medical cannabis retail market was set to take place in the springtime, but was delayed due to the COVID-19 outbreak and social distancing measures. Once everything is in place, sales are set to – finally – begin in mid-summer.

Overview of restrictions on Missouri’s medical cannabis edibles 

Although it still awaits Republican Gov. Mike Parson’s signature of approval, the bill to impose limits on medical cannabis edibles in Missouri will starve producers of creativity. How? The bill, once enacted, would prevent ingestible cannabis product manufacturers from creating edibles in the shape of animals, fruits or humans. A small stretch of creativity remains within the reach of Missouri’s medical cannabis edible suppliers/manufacturers — geometric shapes will be permitted.

As per the proposed rules, packages of psychoactive cannabis edibles in Missouri must be labeled clearly — demonstrating the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) content. This rule would apply for all packaged edible products that contain 10 milligrams (mg) – or more – of the mind-altering substance. Every package must also display a universal cannabis packaging symbol — a symbol that represents a package or product containing some form of medical or recreational cannabis.

Probe currently taking place into Missouri’s medical cannabis licensing process

Something else that is happening in Missouri’s medical cannabis industry right now is an investigation into the state’s licensing process. It was instigated by the State Legislature, which recently resumed activities after things were put on hold in February amid coronavirus. Specifically, a letter addressed from the Missouri House Special Committee on Government Oversight was sent to the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) on Thursday, May 7. 

Detailed in the letter was a forceful chunk of testimony from Committee members urging the Department to release a heavily-guarded collection of documents. Exposing those records would fill the missing puzzle pieces in regards to the decisions made by industry insiders for Missouri’s cannabis licensing process. For months, the system has been enshrouded in confusion and allegations, with over 800 applicants claiming that the licensing process is corrupted.

Some of the shielded documents involve communication between the DHSS and the Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association. The letter also pointed to records that highlight communication between vertically-integrated state cannabis company BeLeaf Medical and the Department.

As it heads to the governor’s office, Missouri’s probe into the medical cannabis industry’s licensing process has already attracted attention from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) — the FBI has had its eyes on Governor Mike Parson’s deputy chief of staff for quite some time. In addition to keeping tabs on the cannabis lobbyist and long-time adviser for Missouri’s governor, the FBI has been delving deep into allegations of cannabis license-processing corruption across various other U.S. states.