Last updated, February 10, 2020
Missouri's Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) is responsible for issuing licenses to qualified patients and all facilities serving the medical cannabis space, including dispensaries. The DHSS awarded the first 192 dispensary licenses in January 2020.
To operate in compliance with DHSS regulations, dispensaries must use a certified seed-to-sale system to track inventory and report to the state. In January, the first 6 seed-to-sale systems were approved to operate in Missouri. Cova Software (Retail Innovation Labs) is proud to be among the first to receive a seed-to-sale license.
The official medical marijuana and dispensary rules are available in their entirety on the DHSS website. We have summarized the information here in Q & A form.
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All medical marijuana facilities, including dispensaries, must follow certain inventory control protocols to ensure compliance with state laws and prevent diversion into the black market.
All dispensaries must appoint, in writing, a facility agent who is generally responsible for inventory control systems and procedures. All medical marijuana weighed or measured must be done so using a National Type Evaluation Program approved scale, which must be calibrated at least once a year. Each dispensary must use a DHSS-certified seed-to-sale tracking system.
Physical inventory counts are to be conducted quarterly and reconciled to perpetual inventory records. Any significant variances must be documented, investigated by a manager, and reported to DHSS within 24 hours.
The Missouri DHSS requires all facilities to use a department-certified seed-to-sale tracking system, connected to the statewide track and trace system, that records each day’s beginning inventory, acquisitions, sales, disbursements, remediations, disposals, transfers, ending inventory, and any other data required by the statewide track and trace system. That includes:
Missouri has chosen Metrc as its track and trace system. Cova software will integrate directly with Metrc to reduce time and errors in the reporting process, making compliance easier for dispensaries.
All records must be maintained for at least five years after the date of recording.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services will have oversight and auditing powers over all of Missouri’s commercial medical marijuana operations.
A failure to comply with seed-to-sale tracking requirements by any facility or employee can result in the facility’s license being revoked.
Yes, the Cova POS will generate reports to specifically comply with Missouri regulations, and will be integrated with the Metrc track and trace system, so you can automatically submit reports on time. Cova’s system will further automate compliance with instant age verification and purchase limit monitoring.
For those interested in opening a medical marijuana dispensary in Missouri, here are some key highlights of the law regarding obtaining a marijuana license..
There are specific cannabis licenses available in Missouri for cultivation, dispensary, manufacturing, testing, and transportation.
The application window for the first round of dispensaries licenses is now closed. DHSS accepted license applications from August 3, 2019, to August 20th 2019 and conducted scoring to determine which applicants would be granted a license.
Dispensary license winners were announced around January 24, 2020.
DHSS has not announced when the next round of applications will be accepted, but is expected to publish any new application timelines at least 6 months in advance of the next window.
There is a $6,000 non-refundable application fee and a $10, 000 annual fee for your dispensary license.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) is in charge of reviewing applications and approving patient and dispensary licenses.
Up to 5 dispensary licenses, or 3 cultivation licenses, or 3 manufacturing licenses may be issued to “any entity under substantially common control, ownership, or management.”
Applicants for commercial licenses must be a Missouri resident with proof of residency for at least 1 year. Entities must be majority-owned by natural persons who have been citizens of Missouri for at least 1 year and do not claim resident privileges in another state or county.
No facility can be owned in any part by or employ anyone with a disqualifying felony offense. Applications must include a statement confirming all owners, principal officers, and managers have submitted fingerprints and undergone a criminal background check by the Missouri State Highway Patrol within in the past 6 months.
If the number of applicants is greater than the number of dispensary licenses available, the DHSS will determine the most suitable candidates by scoring and ranking applicants. Here are some of the criteria they will use, and you should consider to ensure your best chance at getting a license:
You can find the draft rules outlining application information and all other aspects of the Medical Marijuana Program on the Missouri DHSS website.
Maintaining compliance is key to keeping your license. Familiarize yourself with some of the important rules for running a medical marijuana dispensary in Missouri.
Each owner, officer, manager, contractor, employee or support staff must obtain an Agent Identification Card with a unique identifying number. This must be granted before any individual can begin employment. You can apply for this ID card through the DHSS for a fee of $75 and it is valid for 3 years.
Only medical patients (or Primary Caregivers) with a valid DHSS-issued ID card can purchase from a dispensary in Missouri.
When choosing a dispensary location, regulations state that your facility must be at least 1,000 feet from an elementary or secondary school, daycare, or church. This is measured by a straight line (shortest distance) from the closest external wall of the dispensary to the closest property line point of the school, daycare, or church. Individual districts can increase these boundaries.
Medical cannabis dispensaries in Missouri can sell mature plants, seedlings, concentrates, flower, and edibles.
A dispensary cannot sell more than four (4) ounces of dried, unprocessed cannabis, or its equivalent, to any qualifying patient within a 30-day period, in accordance with possession limits for individuals.
Missouri law states that packaging for medical marijuana must be clearly and conspicuously labeled as “Marijuana” or “Marijuana-infused Product”. It must not be designed to cause confusion between a marijuana product and any product not containing marijuana, or to appeal in any way to a minor. Packaging must be opaque, resealable, and constructed to be significantly difficult for children under 5 to open.
Packaging may not contain any health benefit claims, but it must contain proper warnings consistent with state laws.
There is a 4% sales tax on medical marijuana, with the revenue to be distributed to healthcare services, job training, housing assistance, and other services for veterans.
You cannot display marijuana, accessories, or advertisements for either anywhere that can be seen by the general public outside your dispensary. Any signage visible to the outside public may only contain your business name, address, phone number, and website. It can’t contain images of marijuana, accessories, or suggestive images like smoke. You can’t give away free product during promotional events or allow smoking in the dispensary.
Qualifying patients over 18, or Primary Caregivers of certain qualifying patients under the age of 18, who possess an ID card issued by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) can purchase medical marijuana from any state-licensed dispensary. To obtain this ID card, a qualifying patient or Primary Caregiver must obtain physician certification and apply via the DHSS within 30 days.
Yes, patients must have one of the following conditions:
Each patient or Primary Caregiver ID card costs $25 and is valid for 1 year. Physician certification must also be renewed annually.
While certain exceptions apply, and require certification from multiple physicians, state law says it is legal for all medical marijuana patients and Primary Caregivers to possess:
Once you have a temporary or annual retail operator license, have created your account in Metrc and completed the required training, you may begin working with Metrc.
No, temporary licensees are not required to report in Metrc. However, temporary licensees are required to keep records of all track and trace information from the time they begin retail operations. Once an annual license has been approved, you must backlog all the track and trace information that you’ve recorded and begin daily reporting in Metrc.
Once you’ve set up your account in
The first way is manual reporting. This method requires logging in to your
The second way is to utilize a retail-specific cannabis dispensary software that can integrate with
In the event that you lose connectivity to
The state mandates that retailers maintain accurate inventory records. Physical inventory must be reconciled with records at least once every 14 days. You must also reconcile physical inventory with the counts you’ve reported in
Cova POS software provides complete seed-to-sale tracking functionality and has a number of built-in features designed to help you automatically comply with the legal regulations in your state/province. For example, the Cova POS system automatically monitors:
To ensure that you always maintain an expedient transaction pace and keep lines moving, Cova comes with a built-in offline sales processing mode that enables continuous access to critical functions even when your Wi-Fi or internet connection is unavailable. Once connectivity is restored, all transactions performed in offline mode are synchronized with the state’s reporting system, data is backed up, and reports and inventory records are adjusted accordingly.
By choosing a POS system with built-in tax reporting functionality, you’ll always know exactly how much tax you need to pay.
There are several reasons why a cannabis-specific POS is ideal for your operation—but the most important one is compliance management. Because traditional retail operations and pharmacies don’t have the same government-mandated compliance requirements, their POS systems aren’t built to manage the complexities involved with track and trace reporting and the other aspects of state compliance.
With the industry still in its infancy, regulations are bound to change. At Cova, our team keeps up with industry-wide and state-specific changes so that our developers can quickly made necessary software updates—and so you never have to worry about remaining compliant with the latest regulations.
Absolutely! Cova software is built on technology that has the ability to dynamically scale with your needs. Microsoft’s Cloud Computing Platform, Azure, automatically detects instances of heavy traffic (such as sales on 4/20) and assigns further servers and computing power as necessary to compensate—allowing you to process sales without interruption, even during the busiest retail periods.
Although technically you are not mandated to comply with the new law and regulations until July, it’s a good idea to implement a compliant POS now so you don’t have to switch later.
With Cova, you can easily stay compliant with California’s inventory reconciliation requirement by printing the Inventory-on-hand report and checking it against your physical inventory. You can make any necessary adjustments directly into the POS, which will then sync the data across your network.
Cannabis Business Lawyer & US Special Counsel
Mark Balestra has 23 years of experience in emerging highly regulated industries and has been representing clients in the cannabis industry for the past 2 years. Through his cannabis practice, he has provided legal guidance in the areas of licensing, compliance, corporate governance, corporate transactions, human resources, and commercial transactions.