Regulations for Missouri’s medical marijuana industry continue to roll out

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- There is still a lot of work to do as Missouri plans to implement legalized medical marijuana. State regulators continue taking applications for potential dispensaries, manufacturers, and growers.

While it's all new territory for Missouri, there is a blueprint the state is trying to follow from how other states have implemented medical marijuana laws. And now, local fire departments are adding their own set of safety measures in how they'll work with new marijuana patients and businesses.

Danielle Friedrich owns a chain of CBD businesses in the Kansas City area and her company is one of dozens anxious to see medical marijuana finally become legal in Missouri.

"I think everybody's excited about the new businesses that are going to come. The new jobs it's going to supply, everything," Danielle Friedrich of Hemp Life Kansas City said.

So far, 137 applications have been submitted for cultivating medical marijuana. There have been 247 applications for dispensaries and another 69 for manufacturing.   (The state plans to approve 60 cultivators, 192 dispensaries, 80 manufacturers,  and two testing facilities). Those applications have generated more than $3 million in revenue.

The applications only scratch the surface of the hoops those wanting to get into the industry will have to jump through.

"The licensing of it, are you even going to get one if you apply, you've still got to wait for that.  Coding, taxes. I don't think a lot of people are prepared for how much they are going to be taxed. So getting everything in line, it's huge," Friedrich said.

The Kansas City Fire Department is currently updating its fire prevention ordinance, which will reflect the newest international fire code as well as the National Fire Protection Association life safety guide standards. Both include regulations for marijuana grow and extraction operations.

"They pose a unique hazard. Similar to when solar panels first started coming around. They're unique to the fire service and all have their own set of requirements under the fire code," KCFD Deputy Chief Jimmy Walker said.

Kansas City anticipates adopting standards for fire inspections of medical marijuana facilities. The national guidelines cover everything from proper exits and signage, to ventilation, odor control, storage and handling of the product.

"There's unique hazards that are going to be in a grow house, that won't be in a typical business, that can start a fire, so we want to make sure those places and those buildings are kept as safe as we possibly can," Walker said.

Those are all rules businesses like Hemp Life are ready and willing to comply with as they look to grow their operations with both marijuana and hemp.

"As a CBD store, no longer will we have to bring money out of state. We can grow, extract, everything right here in Missouri," Friedrich said.

Kansas City's Fire Department anticipates its new fire codes will be adopted this summer. The state of Missouri is working to have everything ready for legalized medical marijuana to be in place by the end of this year.

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