Bridge West CPAs and Advisors to the Cannabis Industry

CannaBlog: LA & MO Lawmakers Decline Proposals to Make

Major Changes to Marijuana Permitting Structure

by Peter Prevot, CPA, CIA

Last month, state level legislatures in two nascent markets considered removing existing licensing caps on medical marijuana permits.
Louisiana
Louisiana State Rep. Rodney Lyons, a Harvey Democrat, brought forth House Bill 807 amidst concerns from patient advocacy groups regarding the high cost of medical marijuana in Louisiana. The original version of HB 807 aimed to allow an unlimited number of medical marijuana pharmacies in the state, while leaving other pieces of the supply chain unchanged. Lyons later amended the bill after facing heavy opposition from the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association. The amended version of HB807 would have limited the retail price of medical marijuana to double the wholesale price, while also requiring the state-approved pharmacies to offer delivery. Jesse McCormick, a lobbyist who spoke against the bill on behalf of the existing pharmacies, stressed that the program still is very new, noting that only one of the two licensed growers has released product to market and that significant capacity still exists within the existing pharmacies. McCormick also said that marijuana pharmacies have recently been given the authority to deliver products to patients’ homes by the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy, rendering the delivery language in HB807 redundant and unnecessary. Sensing the House Health and Welfare Committee’s tone, Lyons voluntarily deferred his bill. It is highly unlikely that HB807 will be heard again before the 2020 legislative session ends on June 1, 2020.

Missouri
In Missouri, Rep. Ben Baker (R – Newton County), tacked-on amendments to two different senate bills (SB580 and SB600). Both amendments included language that would raise the cap on awarding medical marijuana facility licenses to anyone who meets the minimum constitutional requirements. The move represents a rebuke to the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS). Last year, the DHSS decided to issue the minimum number of licenses required by the voter-approved constitutional amendment that legalized medical marijuana in Missouri, resulting in over 800 appeals from unsuccessful applicants. Although the amendments were approved by the House, the chamber did not pass either bill, as a whole. In fact, neither progressed to the Senate for approval or compromise before the state legislature adjourned on Friday May 15, 2020. If passed, the legislation would have likely ended up in the courts as the constitution specifically gives the Department of Health and Senior Services authority to set license limits.
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If you have any questions and would like to learn more about marijuana legislation or business opportunities in Louisiana or Missouri, please reach out to Peter Prevot, CPA, CIA @ pprevot@bridgewestcpas.com.