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Thursday, October 6, 2022

Marijuana legalization efforts in Missouri should learn from the legal cannabis industry

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Marijuana reform in Missouri has been a controversial topic since at least 2016, as thousands of entrepreneurs and commercial entities vied for access to commercial licensing.

In 2018, the New Approach Missouri campaign won the support of 66% of Missouri voters for putting a medical marijuana program into the state constitution. In 2020, controversy erupted as nearly 85% of 2,200 medical marijuana commercial license applications were denied. Some applicants lost tens of thousands of dollars in state application fees and hundreds of thousands of dollars to consulting firms promising first-class application writing services.

To me, this whole system seems irreparably ineffective and corrupt. Even worse, the New Approach Missouri campaign — now calling itself Legal Missouri 2022 — is proposing a similar approach to recreational marijuana licensing.

While others have discussed licensing issues at length, I have a unique perspective on why these methods don’t make sense – I’m legally licensed to grow cannabis in Missouri under the Agricultural Hemp Act passed in 2018.

Under federal law, cannabis is the cannabis that contains less than 0.3% delta 9 THC (also known as delta 9 THC), and marijuana is the cannabis that contains more than 0.3% delta 9 THC. In 2018, President Trump signed the Farm Act of 2018, which removed hemp from the Federal Controlled Substances Act and created a regulatory structure that allowed states to operate their cannabis programs under the oversight of the USDA.

In 2019, Missouri opened its own cannabis program, and there are currently more than 300 licensed cannabis producers and manufacturers in Missouri. Most growers currently produce hemp flower for cannabidiol (CBD) or other exotic cannabis products, although I believe the long-term potential of this crop is in synthetic seeds and fiber products.

Because the Federal Controlled Substances Act does not prohibit isomers (symmetrically formed compounds differentiated by molecular structure) of delta-9 THC, a federal legal market for delta-8 and delta-10 tetrahydrocannabinol has arisen as legal 2018 products derived from Farm Bill hemp (can Create both delta-8 and delta-10 by chemical conversion of CBD).

Hence, Missouri already has legal THC products, albeit Delta 8 or Delta 10 products, widely available in workshops, stores, and other retail settings. Here in Kansas City, a Westport-area retailer is marketing “Legal THC – No Medical Card Needed – Ask Us How To.”

Delta-8 and delta-10 THC products show very similar effects to the currently banned delta-9 THC product, including poisoning for those who haven’t built up a significant tolerance. However, there are no major concerns about poor driving, licensing or any other issues associated with the controversy over the legalization of marijuana and Delta 9 THC.

Opponents of free-market marijuana licensing cite saturated marijuana markets in Oregon and Oklahoma as cautionary tales against the unrestricted marijuana trade. However, this position is only a function of the federal ban, and once Congress passes federal marijuana legalization, these problems will disappear.

Currently, Republican Congresswoman Nancy Mays of South Carolina has proposed such reforms with the States Reform Act. In the Senate, Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer proposed similar policies. It is hoped that a bipartisan compromise will emerge until the federal government finally moves away from these issues.

In Missouri, the experience of our hemp growers has shown us that it is possible to produce and retail Delta 8 and Delta 10 THC products without controversy or public safety issues. However, special interest groups claiming to represent the marijuana industry are currently spending millions of dollars on competing visions for licensing marijuana through the ballot initiative process.

From a stock standpoint, both current marijuana legalization ballot initiative campaigns want to create new possession limits and possession fees, including felonies. One campaign even wants to create a constitutional mandate that marijuana offenders serving prison terms cannot be released or written off until their sentences are fully completed, while a small group of commercial marijuana licensees make tens of millions of dollars annually in a market where they cannot Newcomers log in in any useful way.

These are all important issues and deserve consideration, but the special interests who run Ballot Initiative campaigns are not interested in hearing the views of stakeholders who have different opinions than mine. However, there is an alternative – the elected representatives of the people of Missouri can consider these issues and act in the interests of Missouri before any of these flawed proposals will take place in November 2022.


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