One of the four applicants for medical marijuana dispensary licenses in Boonville was approved by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
Natural Healthcare of Missouri, LLC was approved for its application at 2415 Mid America Industrial Drive.
Those who were denied licenses in Boonville are Seven Points Agro-Therapeutics MO, LLC at 319 Main St.; Foster-Gibson Investments LLC at 328 6th St.; and Canna Lux, LLC at 13620 Old Highway 40.
The 192 state-approved license holders were issued Friday under the medical marijuana provision of the Missouri Constitution approved by voters in November 2018.
There will be dispensaries in 10 of the Fourth District’s 24 counties. There will be seven dispensaries in Columbia and five in Cass County. There will be three in Moberly in Randolph County, two in Sedalia in Pettis County, and one each in Audrain, Johnson, Laclede, Pulaski and Vernon counties.
The winning proposals were chosen from 1,163 applications statewide and represent the minimum number required under the constitution. With more than 30,000 people already authorized to use and possess marijuana, the number should have been more, said Columbia attorney Dan Viets, a longtime advocate for marijuana legalization and a key proponent of medical marijuana.
“A very important point to understand about this is that DHSS has authority to issue as many licenses as they choose,” Viets said. “The fact that they chose to begin with the bare minimum does not mean they cannot issue more. In my opinion, they should.”
The licensing decisions are the last of the series that has included testing labs, transportation companies, cultivators and infused-product manufacturers.
The decisions have already resulted in one lawsuit and Viets expects more as applicants who were denied pursue appeals with the state’s Administrative Hearing Commission.
“There are some real serious questions about why those applications were scored the way they were,” Viets said. “I have been very happy with the way DHSS has implemented the constitutional amendment generally. I am not sure about these people they contracted to do the scoring.”
One area of concern, Viets said, is the way answers to questions posed in the applications were scored.
“What appear to be identical responses to certain questions are scored very differently in different applications,” he said. “It is really hard to understand how that could be justified.”
Under the constitution, the state was required to license at least 24 dispensaries in each of the state’s eight Congressional districts. The list issued Friday, however, contained 23 in the Fourth Congressional District, which includes Boone County. The district’s list included the approval of a license for Humansville, in Polk County, which is in the Seventh Congressional District.
Department spokeswoman Lisa Cox, in an email, wrote she was checking on why the dispensary showed up on the list for the Fourth District but did not provide an explanation by press time.
The 30,000 approved medical marijuana users is well in excess of projections at this point in a University of Missouri study performed for the department and about 3,000 more than projected by the end of 2022.
Allen Fennewald of the Boonville Daily News contributed to this report.