A bipartisan panel of Missouri legislators grilled Missouri’s medical marijuana director Wednesday over perceived issues with the Show-Me State’s budding legal cannabis system.
Republicans and Democrats on the House Special Committee on Government Oversight persistently questioned Lyndall Fraker, who oversees the state’s medical marijuana program, about the licensing of medical marijuana businesses and related topics.
Committee members, who were joined for the afternoon by House Minority Leader Crystal Quade (D-Springfield), were curious about recent accusations of perceived conflicts of interest with the state-contracted “blind scoring” company that judged the marijuana business permit applications awarded in December and January. (There were roughly 348 winners out of 2,200 applicants.)
Representatives also had questions about equity for minority groups, patient access to medicinal cannabis and the potential for black-market weed to exist even after legal dispensaries are running.
The voter-approved constitutional amendment that made Missouri medical marijuana legal in late 2018 is becoming an everyday reality, but not without growing pains along the way.
‘It’s a joke’
“It’s a joke,” said one Springfield-area man when the News-Leader texted him to ask his opinion of the hearing.
Josh Loftis owns an Ozarks-based consultancy that helps lawful Missouri patients and caregivers set up their own home growing operations. He traveled to Jefferson City on Wednesday to attend the hearing in person.
“The talk about the intent of the voters to limit licensing (is a problem),” Loftis added. “I’m sitting in a room of people who know the intent, and we are all shaking our heads in disbelief. And the obvious lack of understanding of how this ties to the black market just dumbfounds me.”
Lawmakers led with different preoccupations, though, and appeared laser-focused on why the state health department opted to work with Wise Health Solutions, a Nevada-based company hired through a state bidding process