Missouri could strip weed micro-licenses from 11 companies with eligibility questions

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services announced on Friday that it could strip marijuana licenses from nearly a dozen companies over questions about their eligibility for a program aimed at helping small and minority-owned businesses break into the market.

The department, which oversees the state’s new marijuana program, said in a news release that it could not verify the eligibility of 11 of the 48 companies or individuals that were awarded the marijuana micro-licenses in October.

The licenses the department could not verify are “subject to revocation,” the release said. Those license holders have 30 days to respond and provide records to prove why they should not be revoked. The state in its release did not specify which licenses could not be verified. The Star has requested a list.

Missouri’s report comes after Abigail Vivas, the state’s chief equity officer for the cannabis program, performed a final review to verify that the micro-licenses were issued to individuals that met the criteria for the program designed for underserved groups. The remaining 37 licenses were found to be eligible, the report said.

Of the 11 licenses that the department could not verify, nine were dispensary licenses and two were wholesale — or cultivation — licenses, the report said.

The issues found by the department included failure by the license holder to prove that they qualified for the license when they applied, a disqualifying felony offense and failure “to provide documentation that the facility would be operated by eligible individuals.”

Thursday’s announcement comes amid a bevy of controversies surrounding Missouri’s new marijuana industry after voters voted to legalize weed last year.

While hundreds of small-time applicants lost out on the chance to grow or sell legal weed, an out-of-state company accused of predatory practices recently listed for sale licenses that went to two LLCs in Missouri. The state also awarded another license to a company based in New Jersey. And the state also denied a refund on his application fee to a man whose application was revoked.

Missouri awarded 48 marijuana micro-licenses, including 16 dispensary licenses, divided across the state’s eight congressional districts after the agency conducted a random lottery.

The program was designed to help lower income individuals and minority groups break into the market, which has been dominated by large companies. Applicants had to meet one of several requirements, including having a net worth less than $250,000 or having a prior marijuana-related charge.

Licenses that are revoked by the state will be awarded in the next lottery round, which is set to start next year, the state said.