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Controversy Plagues the Missouri Cannabis Market

August 4, 2020 09:00 am ET
Controversy Plagues the Missouri Cannabis Market

One of the saddest factors about cannabis legalization is the number of individuals looking to capitalize on the culture and make a quick buck. This is evident with an individual in Missouri who recently took advantage of hundreds of patients who may now lose their medical cannabis certification.

An individual posing as a licensed medical cannabis doctor in the state of Missouri now has 600 patients at risk of losing their certifications. State regulators have recently discovered that roughly 600 medical cannabis patients in the state received a physician’s recommendation form signed by an unauthorized individual. 

What’s Next for Affected Patients?

Thus far, the Department of Health and Senior Services has found no evidence that any of the patients were aware that their certification came from an unauthorized individual.  According to the director of DHSS in Missouri, Dr. Randall Williams, the department is working diligently to “minimize the impact on them (patients) while also holding accountable those who are responsible.”

Patients affected by this will receive notification and be given 30 days to submit a valid certification to DHSS. The case has since been referred to the Missouri Board of Healing Arts and the state Attorney General’s office. Patients will be refunded a prorated fee per the amount of time left on their license vs. the original price charged.

Another Controversy Hits the Missouri Market

This isn’t the first set of controversy surrounding the Missouri medical cannabis industry. Earlier this year, a whistleblower made claims regarding a private company hired to score applications in the state. Wise Health Solutions, according to these claims, may have tainted the scoring process. The whistleblower also claims that there are conflicting interests within the DHSS.  At the beginning of March, a total of more than 800 appeals had been filed by companies who received a denial notice for licenses to operate a medical cannabis company in Missouri. The most common claim in all of these appeals is that the scoring system used by Wise Health was flawed. 

An investigation lead by St. Louis Post-Dispatch discovered that more than two dozen groups who had been awarded multiple licenses in the state had direct connections to cannabis-based businesses, including the Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association or MoCannaTrade. Coincidentally, Steve Tilley, the lobbyist for MoCannTrade, is a direct advisor to the governor on many things cannabis-related. 

These occurrences have sparked an investigation into the licensing of the state’s cannabis industry and many individuals within the process. Thus far, the Missouri House Special Committee on Government Oversite has sought records from Steve Tilley and Gov. Mike Parson’s administration, including his deputy chief of staff and chief operating officer.

Patients Ultimately Pay the Price

While all of this is unfortunate, the most unfortunate part of it all is how negatively it affects patients. Cannabis is medicine, and it seems the only thing keeping it from patients is politics, and that is indeed the saddest part of the whole story. Patients should always come before profits and politics, but unfortunately, this is never the case, and patients in Missouri are still without the access they need to medical cannabis. However, the state is gladly still accepting their money for applications within a flawed system that has yet to even launch.

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