Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) released the official count of applications the department received from prospective medical marijuana business owners today.

Over 2,100 applications were submitted to the DHSS by prospective medical marijuana business owners — more than half of which were received in the final three days before Monday’s deadline. 

The Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association (MoCannTrade) says the last-minute applications submitted to the DHSS far exceeds industry expectations with the DHSS receiving over 1,200 applications in the last three days, including 800 applications 24 hours before Monday’s deadline.

“The sky-high interest among Missouri cannabis entrepreneurs did come as a bit of a surprise,” Executive Director of MoCannTrade Andrew Mullins said on Tuesday. “Our members have spent months creating business plans, lining up investors, purchasing real estate and working diligently to comply with the state’s rightfully rigorous application process.”

Mullins said MoCannTrade anticipated between 600 and 1,000 total application submissions to the DHSS after reviewing the initial numbers including pre-filled applications submitted. “The results far exceed our expectations and show how competitive the process is in Missouri for winning an MMJ business license,” he said. 

Nearly 7,200 medical cannabis patient applications have been received by the DHSS with more than 6,500 approved, after the DHSS began processing qualified patient and caregiver applications ahead of schedule on June 28. 

“The 2018 constitutional amendment overwhelmingly endorsed by Missouri voters showed the intense interest for access to safe, legal medicine that’s already available in much of the country,” Mullins said. “The patient count will only continue to rise as the state’s program matures, licenses are awarded later this year and retail dispensaries begin to open in early 2020.”

A breakdown of applications by geographical location and facility type will be available to the public in the coming weeks, the DHSS said on Monday. Staff resources are currently committed to reviewing applications for completeness, as authorized by Missouri’s medical marijuana program. 

“We greatly appreciate the input and feedback we have received from so many Missourians that have helped us implement Article XIV of the Constitution,” Director of the DHSS Dr. Randall Williams said on Monday. “While our main goals have always been putting patients first and maintaining integrity of the program, we also think this exemplifies good governance in implementing a complex initiative passed by the overwhelming majority of Missouri voters.”

A third-party blind scorer will soon begin reviewing and scoring the Evaluation Criteria Scoring Questions for all facility applications. The DHSS, based on the scoring results, will license 60 cultivation facilities, 192 dispensaries, 86 medical marijuana-infused manufacturing facilities and 10 testing laboratory facilities. Applications must be approved or denied by DHSS within 150 days of the application submission date.