ST. LOUIS — The first authorized marijuana farmers in Missouri will have to commit a crime to begin growing, and regulators are expected to turn a blind eye.
In November, Missouri voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment legalizing marijuana and marijuana-infused products for patients who suffer from serious illnesses.
But it doesn't indicate how growers should get their first seeds, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. It is a felony to acquire new marijuana plants or seeds already in Missouri, or to get them from one of the 32 other states with legal marijuana.
"It's a real sticky situation," said Zachary Post, who recently launched a Florissant business that offers to teach state-approved marijuana patients how to grow cannabis at home. "It's legal to grow cannabis, but it takes a seed to grow it, but we're not going to tell you where you can get it. It's weird."
Medical marijuana can't be grown, used or sold until authorized by state regulators. That could be as early as December for businesses owners applying to commercially grow marijuana, and as early as July 28 for patients applying to produce it at home.
After Dec. 31, 2020, Missouri requires that anyone lawfully growing marijuana must get seeds or plants from a business approved by the state. But it takes months for a crop to develop, so farmers certified by January won't have any legal in-state sources for marijuana seeds or young plants. Sales of marijuana and infused products aren't projected to begin until spring.
Until then, it will probably be "don't ask, don't tell," said Morgan Fox, with the National Cannabis Industry Association. Most states that have legalized marijuana for medicinal or recreational use didn't ask where growers had obtained their first seeds and plants to begin growing, he said.
"By and large, it's one of those things where law enforcement just agrees to look the other way," Fox added.
In early June, applications for medical marijuana identification cards became available in Missouri. Missouri plans to license more than 300 medical marijuana-related businesses this year.
The Department of Health and Senior Services will start accepting applications for growing and distributing marijuana Aug. 3.