Missouri elections: Parson, Galloway face off on how to run the medical marijuana program
Among a host of other issues, Missouri's approach to medical marijuana divides the two major-party candidates vying for the governorship this fall.
On Oct. 13, State Auditor Nicole Galloway, the Democrat running against incumbent Republican Gov. Mike Parson, told the News-Leader at an appearance in Springfield that she would review the program.
"I think we can look at other states like Oklahoma that have a similar program," Galloway told the News-Leader. "But without the litigation, and without the bungled rollout that we’ve had here in Missouri. So what I would do as governor is review the program, from the top on down. I do believe we need to remove the current director of the program and start fresh. That includes looking at the caps on licenses."
An official with Galloway's campaign said on Tuesday that they didn't have much more to add to the Oct. 13 statement.
Lyndall Fraker, a former state lawmaker and Walmart official from Marshfield, is director of the medical marijuana program. Early in the development of Missouri's medical marijuana regulations, officials chose to implement the minimum number of marijuana business licenses listed in the state constitution, opting for what many in the marijuana industry call "license caps."
The News-Leader reached out to Parson's office and his campaign beginning Tuesday morning for reaction to Galloway's comments.
A spokesperson in Parson's office sent the News-Leader a written statement late Tuesday: "When the law was passed, DHSS leadership has worked diligently to uphold every timeline that was established."
Late Tuesday afternoon, the St. Louis Post-Dispatchreported from a Parson campaign event in Columbia in which the incumbent governor talked about the court battles and administrative hearingslaunched by would-be medical marijuana businesses who were turned down by Missouri marijuana regulators for the required permits.
Roughly 2,200 applications for cannabis business permits were filed with the authorities last year; roughly 370 licenses were granted by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services in December and January.
Many have criticized the Parson administration for perceived "corruption" in the licensing and application-scoring process.
“I don’t have any control over who sues,” the Post-Dispatch quoted Parson as saying in Columbia on Tuesday, as he made his case for how his administration has run the program.
The governor reportedly added, “We’ve got to defend the state and we’re going to defend the state’s position. We’re going to fight against people who sue this state. We’ve got people who are suing this state all the time. Those are things we’ve got to deal with."