Federal judge strikes down Missouri’s medical cannabis residency rule


Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

A Missouri-based federal judge has eliminated the state’s residency requirement for medical cannabis businesses. This means that the evolving market will now be open to nonresidential cannabis operators, too.

The final ruling was announced from the bench by Judge Nanette Laughrey. She confirmed her decision via a video-streamed conference, which lasted just seven minutes.

However, the fixed injunction prohibiting Missouri from imposing residency requirements was to be expected. After all, Laughrey distributed a comparable preliminary injunction this past June.

That particular order saw the judge scold the state for failing to abide by the legalities demonstrating how Missouri’s residency requirement would stop cannabis from being trafficked beyond state borders.

Because of this, Laughrey claims that the state’s mission was botched and therefore the residency requirement should be eradicated.

What did the Missouri residency rule require?

Missouri’s constitutional amendment to legalize medical cannabis – a law that was effectuated after voters unanimously approved it in 2018 – stipulated that all state-licensed manufacturing facilities, dispensaries/retail stores and cultivation spaces be at least 51 percent majority-owned by state residents for a minimum of one year.

Just one day following Laughrey’s court ruling to banish the rule – which occurred during the first week of October – New York cannabis company Columbia Care celebrated the official launch of its first Missouri-based medical cannabis dispensary. This is just one example of many recent advancements taking place in Missouri’s cannabis space.

Since the state legalized medical cannabis sales in October 2020, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DOHSS) has reported millions of dollars worth of revenue. As of October 1 this year, Missouri’s legal medical cannabis market generated $136 million in sales.

Missouri’s medical cannabis sales hit a new record in July

As if the previously mentioned sales revenue wasn’t impressive enough, get this — sales of medical cannabis in Missouri surpassed $20 million on a monthly basis for the first time this past July. Since this record-breaking moment, analysts have optimistically estimated that annual sales are now in the realm of $250 million.

Including the $21.03 million in medical cannabis sales revenue that was pulled in last month, the total amount of money that Missouri’s registered medical cannabis patients have spent on their medicine within less than a year now amounts to $91.36 million.

It’s not just medical cannabis sales revenue that climbed during the month of July but also, the number of licensed dispensaries that opened their doors in Missouri. According to the DOHSS, 135 dispensaries, 36 infused product producers and 26 cannabis grow facilities have been approved so far.

Missouri is also celebrating inflated levels of medical cannabis patient enrollment. Currently, the state has licensed approximately 135,000 Missouri caregivers and patients.

“Missouri is one of the only medical cannabis states where patients don’t have to drive long distances to access medicine,” said the executive director of MoCannTrade (The Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association,) Andrew Mullins.

“As a result of this tremendous patient access, our industry is seeing record sales and a diverse line of products, with Missouri cannabis companies creating thousands of new jobs and investing millions in their local communities,” Mullins added.

Thanks to the increasing number of dispensaries scattered across the state, the cost of medicinal-grade cannabis is now cheaper for registered patients. Moreover, product options and availability are also advancing.