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How to Open and Manage a Dispensary in Missouri

18 March 2021  |  14 min read

Missouri cannabis legalization regulations

Whether you’re new to the cannabis industry, or have experience in other states, there are a few things you need to know about opening and managing a dispensary in Missouri.

If you have specific questions, jump to the section that will help you get your Missouri-based medical marijuana dispensary open and operating as quickly, compliantly, and successfully as possible.

Timeline of medical marijuana legalization in Missouri

2014: The story of legal cannabis in Missouri started in 2014, with SB 491, a bill to lower penalties for possessing cannabis. That bill took effect in 2017.

2018: In November of 2018, Missouri residents voted yes on Amendment 2, which legalized medical marijuana for registered patients with serious health conditions.

2020: After a year of setting regulations, dispensary licenses were awarded in January 2020. And the competition was fierce: 192 licenses were issued to a pool of over 1,200 applicants. The first dispensaries opened their doors in Missouri in October 2020.

According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), “the number of dispensary facility licenses will be limited to 192, unless the department determines the limit must be increased in order to meet the demand for medical marijuana by qualifying patients.”

The number of dispensary facility licenses will be limited to 192 in Missouri, unless the DHSS determines the limit must be increased in order to meet the demand for medical marijuana by qualifying patients.

In addition to licenses for dispensaries, Missouri also requires licenses for marijuana cultivation, manufacturing, testing, and transportation.

Missouri cannabis laws

Cannabis laws and state regulations are the foundation of legal dispensary operation. As a dispensary owner or manager, you must know about and abide by these laws at all times or face fines, investigation, and possible loss of license.

While not an exhaustive list, here are a few of the primary regulations you need to be aware of in Missouri. (See the full list).

*Disclaimer: This list of laws is meant to be descriptive and not legal in nature. For more on medical marijuana laws in Missouri, visit the DHSS site or talk to your lawyer.

Transaction requirements

19 CSR 30-95.080.2.C.1-4: (C) Dispensary facilities must, for every transaction

  1. Receive the transaction order at the dispensary directly from the qualifying patient or primary caregiver in person, by phone, or via the internet, and not from a third party;
  2. At the time of sale, verify through the statewide track and trace system that the qualifying patient or primary caregiver is currently authorized to purchase the amount of medical marijuana requested and, in the case of a seed purchase, that the patient or primary caregiver is currently authorized to cultivate medical marijuana;
  3. In the case of a delivery order, receive payment before the medical marijuana leaves the dispensary, subject to refund if the delivery cannot be completed; and
  4. At the time of sale or delivery, require production of a qualifying patient or primary caregiver identification card, a government issued photo ID, and in the case of medical marijuana seed purchases, a patient cultivation identification card.

Takeaways:

  • Delivery is allowed in Missouri. Streamline and maintain compliance by integrating your delivery/order ahead vendor, like Jane or Olla with your POS.
  • Live check in is required, meaning you must know, when a patient checks in at your store, whether they can purchase cannabis and how much of the monthly limit remains.
  • Not all patients can cultivate. You can only sell seeds and clones to authorized patients.
  • Valid medical marijuana card and photo ID are required to purchase medical marijuana.

Dispensary design requirements

19 CSR 30-95.080.2.E.1-3: (E) Dispensary facilities must design their facility and staffing in such a way as to accomplish the following:

  1. The general public, qualifying patients, and primary caregivers may only enter the facility through one (1) access point into an area where facility agents shall screen individuals for qualifying patient or primary caregiver status. No medical marijuana may be accessible in this area;
  2. Only qualifying patients, primary caregivers, and, if requested by a qualifying patient, up to two (2) additional persons to support the qualifying patient, may enter any areas beyond the facility’s access point area;
  3. In any limited access area where medical marijuana is accessible, the facility shall only allow access at any given time for a number of qualifying patients and/or primary caregivers equal to the number of staff available.

Takeaways:

  • Patients/caregivers must enter a main door into an area without cannabis products.
  • All patients/caregivers must check in and show valid ID and medical marijuana card.
  • Staff numbers must be equal to patient and/or caregiver numbers. This means you will need to carefully monitor staff scheduling to decrease wait time for patients.

Taxes

Constitutional amendment, section 4: The tax shall be a rate of four percent on the retail price.

Purchase amounts

19 CSR 30-95.030.5.A: (5) Purchase and Possession Limitations. (A) Qualifying patients may only purchase, or have purchased on their behalf by their primary caregivers, four (4) ounces of dried, unprocessed marijuana per qualifying patient, or its equivalent, in a thirty- (30-) day period;

19 CSR 30-95.040.4.G.5: 5. Each dispensary facility shall be responsible for ensuring that every amount of medical marijuana sold or disbursed to a qualifying patient or primary caregiver is recorded in the seed-to-sale tracking system as a purchase by or on behalf of the applicable qualifying patient.

Takeaway:

  • Monthly purchase limits are strict; you cannot sell over this amount to any patient.
  • Every sale must be recorded in the state tracking system, Metrc.
  • You must upload all transaction details to Metrc in real time, or immediately upon sale.

Label requirements

19 CSR 30-95.040.4.K.4-7: 4. Marijuana and marijuana-infused products shall bear a label displaying the following information, in the following order:

A. The total weight of the marijuana included in the package:

  • For dried, unprocessed marijuana, weight shall be listed in ounces or grams;
  • For concentrates, weight shall be listed in grams; or
  • For infused products, weight shall be listed by milligrams of THC;

B. Dosage amounts, instructions for use, and estimated length of time the dosage will have an effect;

C. The THC, tetrahydrocannabinol acid, cannabidiol, cannabidiol acid, and cannabinol concentration per dosage;

D. All active and inactive ingredients, which shall not include groupings of ingredients that obscure the actual ingredients, such as “proprietary blend” or “spices”;

E. In the case of dried, unprocessed marijuana, the name, as recorded with the Missouri Secretary of State, of the cultivating facility from which the marijuana in the package originated and, in the case of infused products, the name of the infused-product manufacturer, as recorded with the Missouri Secretary of State; and

F. A “best if used by” date;

5. No branding, artwork, or other information or design elements included on marijuana or marijuana-infused products shall be placed in such a way as to obscure any of the information required by this section;

6. Marijuana and marijuana-infused product packaging shall not include claims of health benefits but may include health warnings; and

7. Marijuana and marijuana-infused products must, at all times, be tagged with traceability information generated by the state-wide track and trace system.

Takeaways:

  • Labels are more complicated than many legal states.
  • Your labels must include total weight, dose amounts, usage instructions, length of effect, THC/CBD concentration per dose, all active/inactive ingredients, and "best by" date.
  • Labels cannot include claims of health benefits.
  • All marijuana products must be tagged with traceability information at all times.

Note: Flowhub labels are 100% compliant in Missouri!

Seed-to-sale tracking

19 CSR 30-95.040.4.G.3: 3. Each facility shall use a department certified seed-to-sale tracking system to track medical marijuana from seed or immature plant stage until the medical marijuana is purchased by a qualifying patient or primary caregiver or destroyed. Records entered into the seed-to-sale tracking system must include each day’s beginning inventory, harvests, acquisitions, sales, disbursements, remediations, disposals, transfers, ending inventory, and any other data necessary for inventory control records in the statewide track and trace system.

Takeaways:

  • Metrc is the seed-to-sale tracking system in Missouri. Use of Metrc is mandatory.
  • Missouri requires a "real-time" Metrc push, meaning your transaction data is recorded by the state immediately upon sale.

About Metrc: The Missouri track-and-track software

Metrc (Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting Compliance) is the track-and-trace provider for Missouri.

Like many other states, you may have cultivation licenses, manufacturing or processing licenses, and dispensary licenses in Missouri.

In Missouri, there’s also a transport/delivery license. Regardless of which portion of the supply chain you work in, Metrc reporting is required.

Here are a few resources to help you stay compliant with Metrc:

  • Read our Metrc 101 resource, outlining what Metrc is, how to stay compliant, and how to get started with training and uploading inventory.
  • Visit the Metrc Missouri page, including FAQs, training details, and official state bulletins.
  • See our full guide for how to open a new dispensary with Metrc.

10 tips for opening a dispensary in Missouri

opening a dispensary

Whether you're planning to open a dispensary in Missouri, or are already open for business, there are several things to keep in mind to ensure compliance and success.

Based on years of experience, here's our top 10 tips for opening and managing a successful cannabis dispensary in Missouri:

1. Understand compliance. This is the most important thing for dispensary owners. Marijuana is a business of compliance and you must understand all the regulations. Whether it’s you or someone on your team, for long-term success, you just must be compliant. It’s your license and livelihood, make sure to protect it.

2. Prioritize inventory management. This is just as important as compliance, and the two are intrinsically linked. Hire the right people to manage your dispensary inventory and state reporting. Take advantage of Metrc trainings to start operating correctly from day one and use tools, like the hand-held Stash® App, to save hours every day on inventory auditing.

3. Ensure your software can handle Missouri's unique requirements. Flowhub waited to enter the MO market until all requirements were met compliantly. The four areas to watch extra closely are:

    • Monthly purchase limits. You must be able to tell, at check in, how much marijuana a patient has available to purchase for that month. Live check in, through an integration with Metrc, is the safest way to check. The mobile check in app, Greet™, allows you to verify ID and monitor purchase limits in seconds.
    • Live Metrc push. Your POS must reliably send transaction data to Metrc immediately. Flowhub makes it easy to see if transactions didn't upload successfully, often because of Metrc being down or issues with your store internet.
    what if live push to Metrc fails - cannabis dispensary
    In Flowhub, you can see which sales didn't upload to Metrc, and easily re-send them.
      • Label requirements. Missouri requires more details than many other legal states, so this may be a challenge for POS providers. Make sure you see an example label to ensure it includes all the details listed in the label requirements above.
      • Patient cultivation cards. Another unique requirement in Missouri is the grow card. Only patients with this card can buy seeds and clones. The challenge will be ensuring you can track these individuals to avoid erroneously selling seeds to unauthorized patient
      Missouri patient cultivation card - manage easily in Flowhub
      Simply toggle the cultivation card "on" in the patient's profile in Flowhub to allow purchase of seeds and clones.
      4. Choose your software and hardware carefully. Every new market (and new license-holder) gets deluged in the first few months by technology vendors. Everyone will say their software is best. Trust your intuition, look for vendors who genuinely care about your success, and do your homework to understand what dispensary hardware and cannabis POS system will best serve your needs.

      5. Take advantage of available resources. The DHSS approves vendors who want to support medical marijuana businesses in the state, including cannabis POS software providers. See the full list of approved vendors. Be cautious about signing with vendors that the state hasn’t approved; the law actually requires you to use state-certified vendors.

      6. Hire experienced people. In new markets like Missouri, you’ll mostly be hiring staff without experience who want to get into the cannabis industry. If you happen to find someone who has worked in the industry in other states, hire them. If they have experience with Metrc, definitely hire them, and be prepared to pay more for their experience and knowledge.

      7. Consider your store layout. There's several dispensary design layouts you can choose — each with their own customer experience and inventory considerations. Based on Missouri regulations, we recommend the Bank model, which is most common in medical marijuana dispensaries. In this model, a patient checks in, waits in the waiting room, enters the secure room, then works with a budtender to complete their transaction.

      Bank model dispensary layout

      8. Draw from prior experiences. Use lessons learned from other professional endeavors, but don’t expect everything to translate. If you have retail management or ownership experience, certain areas of the business — like merchandising, staffing, etc. — may transfer, but not everything. The laws around dispensaries are so unique, including in COGS, 280-E, and writing off business expenses, so don’t just take your past experience and assume it’s all the same in cannabis.

      9. Stand out from the crowd. Just like in any industry, you need to create a unique and memorable brand and build awareness. Consider your store name and logo, and depending on your location, how to maximize your signage to help you be found. Also consider your online presence, both through your own website and social media, but also on Google, Yelp, Weedmaps, Leafly, etc.

      10. Know your customer. One challenge for new dispensary owners is matching your inventory to your anticipated patient base. Research the population base around your store to get a sense for who your patients may be, then make sure you have the types of products they'll want. Once you open your doors, watch inventory and sales data, review your patient demographics, and refine as necessary.

        Final thoughts

        Opening and running a dispensary is no small task, but we’re here every step of the way.

        For more tips to getting your medical marijuana dispensary up and running, check out the How to Open a Dispensary guide, which goes in-depth on many of the topics mentioned here, including:

        • Inventory management and auditing
        • Key employees every dispenary needs
        • Average dispensary employee wages
        • Best practices for choosing a dispensary point of sale system
        • The difference between the store layouts
        • Considerations for your tech stack
        • And more.

        Read the guide now →

        Amber erickson

        Amber Erickson

        Amber's goal is to create helpful and engaging content to empower cannabis professionals to run a successful and compliant dispensary. Amber joined Flowhub to support the company's mission to help make cannabis accessible to everyone through innovative technology. Connect with Amber on LinkedIn.

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