Missouri auditor investigates state’s marijuana programs

FILE - Jeremy Baldwin tags young cannabis plants at a marijuana farm operated by Greenlight,...
FILE - Jeremy Baldwin tags young cannabis plants at a marijuana farm operated by Greenlight, Oct. 31, 2022, in Grandview, Mo. Marijuana advocates are looking toward their next states to target after experiencing some mixed results in the recent elections. Cannabis legalization measures for adults passed in Maryland and Missouri but failed in Arkansas, North Dakota and South Dakota. Supporters already are looking toward a March legalization vote in Oklahoma. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)(Charlie Riedel | AP)
Published: Aug. 15, 2023 at 3:49 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - The Missouri Auditor is investigating the state’s marijuana program six months after dispensaries began selling it to recreational users.

Auditor Scott Fitzpatrick’s office said it is investigating both Missouri’s medical marijuana program and the recreational use program. The audit is in its beginning stages.

Missouri voters passed Amendment 2 in November 2018. The Amendment legalized the medical use of marijuana for patients who qualified for a medical marijuana card. Just four years later, voters returned to the polls and passed a constitution amendment making recreational use legal.

The auditor’s office said the review will cover a five-year period that includes both medical and recreational use marijuana in the state through June 30, 2023.

While dispensaries have only been able to sell marijuana to medical use customers for five years, and to recreational users for less than a year, Fitzpatrick said it’s time to make sure the programs are operating legally.

READ MORE: Product recall issued by Missouri’s Division of Cannabis Regulation

“The amendments that legalized medical and then recreational marijuana represent some of the most substantial changes we’ve seen to our state constitution in recent memory. These provisions now make up more than one-fifth of the language in our state constitution,” Fitzpatrick said in a statement to KCTV5.

The state’s marijuana industry also created a massive revenue stream that involve dozens of facilities across the state. Fitzpatrick said the audit will ensure the industry is running as it should.

“The medical and recreational marijuana programs created by these amendments are responsible for establishing a new industry in our state which has already generated more than $1 billion in sales. The rules and regulations promulgated for these programs govern hundreds of marijuana facilities all across Missouri that cultivate and sell cannabis products to hundreds of thousands of Missourians each year. Considering the enormous impact they have had on our state, it’s important that we conduct a thorough assessment of these programs to ensure they are operating in a manner that is efficient, accountable, and transparent,” Fitzpatrick said.

The audit comes as Missouri prepares to announce its first round of microbusiness licenses.

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The window to apply for a microbusiness license closed Aug. 10, 2023. The state is currently reviewing applications. It plans to issue a total of 48 microbusiness licenses around Oct. 3, 2023.

Microbusinesses are small businesses designed to allow under-represented individuals to participate in the legal marijuana market. They also do not cultivate or manufacture their own product.