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ST. LOUIS — More than 400 pre-applications from potential marijuana growers and sellers have already been filed with Missouri, months before licenses will be awarded.

St. Louis Public Radio reported that potential businesses have already paid more than $3 million in application fees, even though the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services won't begin accepting formal applications for dispensaries, cultivation facilities, and manufacturing plants until August 2019.

Missouri voters approved a ballot measure in November 2018 allowing for marijuana to treat a wide variety of ailments. The state is still drafting rules and regulations for how the program will be operated.

“That is just astounding to me, the level of interest and excitement and willingness to make that level of investment at this early of a stage. But it does make me a bit nervous!” said Derek Mays, founder and CEO of REAL Cannabis Co. His group wants to open a combined cultivation, manufacturing, and dispensing facility.

That is just astounding to me, the level of interest and excitement and willingness to make that level of investment at this early of a stage. Click To Tweet

The state will distribute a minimum of 24 dispensary licenses to each of the eight congressional districts. In some districts, potential applicants already far exceed that number.

An employee at an Ohio medical marijuana tops a marijuana plant on Sept. 20, 2018. Soon, Missouri may have grow facilities like this one. The state has received more than 400 pre-applications by potential operators of dispensaries, cultivation facilities, and manufacturing businesses. The state won't begin accepting formal applications until August 2019. (Associated Press file photo/David Dermer)

In Missouri's 1st Congressional District, which comprises much of the city of St. Louis and north St. Louis County, 36 hopeful dispensary owners have submitted fees. In the 5th Congressional District, which includes Kansas City, 58 businesses or individuals have submitted pre-application fees.

It costs $6,000 to apply for dispensing licenses or manufacturing licenses, and $10,000 to apply to run cultivation facilities. The applications are non-refundable and do not confer preferential treatment.

Turning in an application fee early won't affect whether the state ultimately approves a license, health officials say. But Mays and others were eager to get the pre-applications in.

“I think that most people who are interested in getting into the industry somewhat felt, whether it's psychological or not, we didn't want to be one of the organizations that didn't show the motivation, or, you know, support, for the process,” Mays said.

 

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