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How to Start a Marijuana Business in Missouri

Dec, 2022
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In the past, learning how to start a marijuana business in Missouri was a privilege technically reserved for the affluent.

However, as the industry continued to scale, this began to shift. Soon, there was an obvious need for the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) to make the industry more inclusive and provide opportunities for minorities and small-scale operators to gain access to the industry.

Today, things are changing gradually. The Show-Me State is one of the states currently working to make its MMJ industry more inclusive and competitive with more opportunities to open a cannabis company in Missouri.

Let’s get right into how to start a cannabis company in Missouri. 

Why Start a Cannabis Company in Missouri?

The cannabis industry has been experiencing substantial exponential growth in the past few years.

In the past year alone, the market witnessed its most significant expansion in a single year, creating more than 107,000 new jobs and driving the national total to a little over 428,000 jobs, according to a report by Leafly and Whitney Economics.

The cannabis industry is currently one of the fastest-growing markets in the U.S. today, boasting a 161% growth between 2017 and 2021.

That is more numbers than the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects for the decadal growth of the fastest-growing industries.

Although it is a considerably younger market, the legal cannabis market has already created more jobs than a lot of long-existing industries. There are more cannabis workers than there are machinists, bank tellers, firefighters, and insurance sales agents.

If you missed the chance to learn how to get into the cannabis industry in 2022, this is a good time for you to learn how to start a medical marijuanas business in Missouri in the coming year.

With recreational sales set to start in the first quarter of 2023 and the DHSS taking concerted steps to provide more licenses in mid-2023, Missourians can expect to have access to more jobs in the cannabis industry.

You can be one of the lucky people who learn how to start a cannabis company, gets a license, and create more jobs in the cannabis industry. 

Starting a Cannabis Company in Missouri: There is More to it Than the Plants

For most individuals, their interest in learning how to start a medical marijuanas business in Missouri borders on plant-touching businesses such as cultivation facilities, dispensaries, and manufacturing of cannabis-infused products. 

However, there is a lot more to the cannabis industry than these businesses.

Generally, the plant-touching cannabis businesses leading the cannabis industry include:

  • Cultivators who run commercial growing facilities, raising cannabis plants needed to feed and sustain the state’s cannabis industry.
  • Breeders who are involved in researching, identifying, and selectively breeding cannabis seeds and strains with high-quality genetics to ensure that only the best plants make it to the market. They supply cultivators with seeds.
  • Manufacturers who are involved in processing cannabis into various cannabis products, including extracts, topicals, tinctures, and edibles.
  • Testing facilities tasked with testing all cannabis products in the state to ensure compliance with state standards before transfer to dispensaries.
  • Dispensaries, which serve as the meeting point between the consumer and the cannabis industry, offering cannabis flowers and other cannabis products to qualified consumers.

Lots of business opportunities abound in the cannabis industry in Missouri. Below is a quick breakdown of some other cannabis businesses you should also consider. 

Logistics

Logistics and transportation are also plant-touching businesses sustaining the cannabis industry. However, a lot of people don’t pay attention to them.

The state allows dispensaries to use pizza delivery style in the delivery of weed to customers. However, for most dispensaries, it is a venture they are yet to fully figure out or pursue.

As more dispensaries move to push their business online, there will be a need for third-party services to handle the logistics.

This need also extends to cultivation and manufacturing facilities, so you can run a vertical supply chain logistics business in the marijuana industry. 

Marketing

Marketing for cannabis businesses is a bit of a tricky field, given the question of legality at the federal scale.

Cannabis companies are looking for marketing companies that can crack the technicalities and legalities, aggressively push their marketing campaigns, and improve their bottom line. That marketing company could be yours. 

Brand Compliance

Most cannabis businesses focus on running their daily operations to drive profit and are often not equipped to pay extra attention to compliance.

Cannabis businesses seek compliance experts that can help ensure their products and services meet brand and state requirements in order to be on the safer side and probably save thousands of dollars that could be lost in lawsuits. 

Finance and Accounting

There is a big space for fintech experts in the cannabis industry in Missouri. Some dispensaries moving their business online find it hard to integrate secure payment gateways on their platforms while circumventing legal hurdles at the federal level.

Also, the state has specific guidelines for accounting software any cannabis company in Missouri uses to run its operations.

These and other business opportunities in security, equipment design and manufacture, insurance, and packaging are aspects some existing cannabis companies are yet to fully figure out and ensure smooth, hassle-free operations.

When recreational sales kickstart in Missouri and the DHSS issues more operating licenses to new businesses, there will be an increased need for these and more cannabis-related services. 

Cannabis Industry MO: How to Start a Marijuana Business in Missouri

How To Start A Marijuana Business In Missouri

Knowing how to start a medical marijuanas business in Missouri is vital knowledge for any individual or business looking to enter and create jobs in the cannabis industry.

Here is a quick guide on how to start a marijuana business in Missouri.

Confirm Eligibility

Before you venture into learning how to start a marijuana business in Missouri, you must first confirm your eligibility:

  • Only individuals who have been residents in the state for at least a year can open a cannabis company in Missouri.
  • The majority share of any cannabis company in Missouri must be owned by a Missouri citizen for at least a year and must not be a resident of another state in the first year.
  • Individuals with a qualifying felony on their record do not have the privilege of getting into the industry. 

Know the MO DHSS Requirements

Although the state is eager to create a lot of jobs in the cannabis industry, it also has a plethora of requirements for individuals and business entities interested in knowing how to get into the cannabis industry. 

This is to ensure that the industry is transparent and that the products reaching the consumers are safe.

Below is a breakdown of these requirements you must know before learning how to start a marijuana business in Missouri. 

Requirement 1: Character Check for Top Management

The DHSS expects the principal officers and managers of any cannabis company in Missouri to have near-impeccable records. Also, experience in the legal cannabis market is a plus.

DHSS expects individuals at the top management not to have:

  • had a serious tax offense, been involved in a business that had its license revoked,
  • been convicted of felonies under state or federal law,
  • been involved in a business that the DEA denied or revoked its license,
  • been involved with a business that the U.S. FDA has sued,
  • been involved in a business that any federal healthcare program for fraudulent activities has excluded. 

Requirement 2: Compliant Business Plan

Any individual or business entity with an interest in how to start a cannabis company in Missouri must have a compliant business plan. 

There are lots of aspects your business plan must cover, some of which include:

  • Documentation of sources of capitalization, bearing in mind that except for very few exceptions, the state has the following capitalization expectations for –
    • Cultivation facility applicants – $300,000. Licensing fee – $10,000 non-refundable, $25,000 annual.
    • Dispensary applicants – $150,000. Licensing fee – $6,000 non-refundable, $10,000 annual fee
    • Transportation applicants – $150,000
    • Infused product manufacturing facility applicants – $150,000. Licensing fee – $6,000 non-refundable, $10,000 annual fee
    • Testing applicants – $200,000
  • Insurance provisions for properties, product liability, business interruption, professional liability
  • Documentation to show authority to legally operate at a given address
  • Plans to ensure steady marijuana supply, adequate safety and security provision for your patients, the community, and your facility, provision of MMJ for low-income qualifying patients, and plans to ensure your MMJ supply is not diverted to the streets or illegal market.
  • A detailed plan on how your business will recruit and train all your employees on various subjects, including sexual harassment, workplace violence, industry and company policies, and security and safety.
  • A detailed plan for your business’s inventory management, tracking, and accounting. All systems, including POS systems, must be certified by DHSS and linked to the state’s Metrc system.
  • A detailed financial plan, market analysis, marketing plan for your business, revenue expectations, and staffing plan for the first two years.
  • How you intend to prevent minors from accessing your products 

LEARN MORE about marijuana laws in Missouri.

Requirement 3: Site Security

Measures for ensuring site security must be a priority for any business entity or individual with an interest in how to start a marijuana business in Missouri.

Generally, the state expects top security and surveillance at the following places:

  • Your parking lot and building exterior
  • Interior public and non-public spaces
  • Marijuana containment sections

The DHSS also expects that you will appropriately vet and monitor your staff at all times within the premises. 

Requirement 4: Impact on the Community

You will have to provide projections on the impact of your business in its community, stating things like expected wages, full-time job positions, and other positive impacts in the community.

You will also have to define how your cannabis company will improve competitiveness in the community and the MO MMMJ industry at large.

The DHSS has other business-specific requirements, which you will have to fulfill depending on the type of cannabis business you wish to start.

You can check out the evaluation criteria questions and points to gain more insights on DHSS requirements for cannabis companies in Missouri. 

LEARN MORE about Missouri dispensaries here.

Build Your Brand

You have to define your brand principles in line with the guiding state and industry policies and laws.

Whatever cannabis business you are starting, whether in cultivation, fintech, accounting, transportation, packaging, or dispensary, you must streamline your services, products, and operations to stay within the protection of the law.

Since any cannabis business is most likely to have numerous facets of operations, it may be in your best interest to consult a cannabis industry expert or consultant to ensure your brand is up to industry standards.

Consider all factors, from your facility operations to online activities, marketing strategies to sales, and hardware to software. 

Apply for Your License

How To Start A Marijuana Business In Missouri

If you are able to make provisions for most of all that has been listed above, then you are probably ready to apply for your cannabis business license in Missouri.

But, you're also probably curious about how to apply for a dispensary license in the first place. Also, what are Missouri cultivation license rules?

Well, the DHSS organizes and announces time periods for cannabis business applications and selection on its website.

During this time period, the DHSS would publish the number of licenses to be won and open its online portal to accept applications from interested businesses until a given deadline.

Only complete applications will make it to the selection process. In the spirit of transparency, the DHSS uses the lottery method in its selection process whenever there are more applicants than the available licenses.

Basically, applicants who are able to complete their applications in due time and pay their application fees would stand a chance to win an operating license via the lottery.

Check out the MO DHSS medical marijuana draft rules page, which contains various draft rules for all types of cannabis businesses and cannabis business operations. It provides comprehensive details on most of what you will need to know about how to start a marijuana business and successfully complete your application.

Microbusinesses with low capitalization should check out the DHSS facility applications and selection publication for tips on how to qualify for microbusiness licensing and be able to apply from June 6, 2023.

Note: For existing facilities with interest in converting their business to include recreational marijuana sales or production in 2023, the DHSS has opened applications for facility conversions. You will have to pay a non-refundable conversion fee of $2,000 to apply.

Cannabis Company in Missouri: Make Informed Decisions With Elevate Holistics

Elevate Holistics is in the business of helping thousands of Missouri MMJ patients get their medical marijuana cards in the shortest time possible at the most affordable rate.

For individuals with an interest in learning how to start a cannabis company in Missouri, we suggest giving the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services a call at (573) 751-6400.

Need more personalized solutions, or just want to know more about how to start a marijuana business in Missouri? Need the guidance of seasoned experts in the cannabis industry in Missouri?

We will be happy to point you in the right direction.

Click here to book an appointment and start your MO MMJ journey today.