Missouri has begun the move toward legalized medical marijuana by naming an outgoing lawmaker to a leadership role and announcing the start of the process for those who want to grow, make or sell marijuana products.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said Wednesday it will begin accepting application fees for cultivation, infused product manufacturing and dispensaries on Jan. 5. Forms are available on the health department website. Application fees are non-refundable.
Republican Rep. Lyndall Fraker will serve as director of the state's medical marijuana program. Fraker voted in favor of a bill in May that would have allowed medical marijuana, but the Missouri Senate never voted on the measure.
"Administering this new program needs to be done in the right way for Missouri," said Fraker, who couldn't run for re-election in November because of term limits. "I look forward to continuing to serve the people of Missouri in my new capacity."
Voters approved a constitutional amendment in November allowing medical marijuana in Missouri, which is now among 32 states that allow medical or recreational use of the drug. The new Missouri law requires the health department to begin accepting patient applications by early June.
The measure allows patients with cancer, HIV, epilepsy and other conditions access to marijuana. It also permits use by veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. A 4 percent sales tax goes to a newly created fund for health and care services for veterans.
Legislative researchers have estimated that more than $100 million worth of medical marijuana could be sold annually in Missouri.