KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Missouri's Department of Health and Senior Services came to the University of Missouri-Kansas City Wednesday for its fourth of five medical marijuana forums being conducted throughout the state.
The forums provide opportunities to provide feedback about what should or should not be included in the medical marijuana program regulations that will be published June 4.
"We take the info back and they look at it and research it and see if something that can be put into place," Lyndall Fraker, Director of Missouri Medical Marijuana Regulation said.
"Don't implement any rules and regulations that make it virtually impossible for patients and caregivers to participate in the home cultivation of medical cannabis," Jessica Kelly with NORML Missouri told state representatives.
"No marijuana leafs, no fluorescent lighting, we do not see them on any of other pharmacies," Vicky Ward warned the same regulators.
Qualified patients can start meeting with doctors to get conditions like epilepsy and glaucoma certified on June 4th as well. Certifications are only valid for 30 days to get medical marijuana I.D. cards. That application process doesn't open until July 4.
"There is a need to have physicians that are committed to doing it and doing it properly and legally," Dr. Daniel Towle said.
The majority of the audience were those who stand to benefit the most financially. State records show, so far, 453 potential cultivators and dispensaries have ponied up more than $3 million combined in application fees.
"The fact we are all here now in one of four or five different forums speaks to the fact we really want to get this done correctly," Mike Carman with Red Tractor Cannabis said.
Advocacy groups reminded Missouri DHSS of its mission.
"Their job is not to represent the marijuana industry and make sure people are making money on this. Their job is to make sure our health, our safety is protected," Laura Bruce with the Prevention Coalition said.
August 3rd, facilities can officially submit their applications. The state then has 150 days to approve it, meaning by December 31st at the latest, medical marijuana dispensaries could be in business. Each of Missouri's eight Congressional district will have 24 dispensaries at a minimum.