© 2021 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Law & Order

A judge has blocked Missouri's residency rule for medical marijuana business licenses

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has awarded licenses to 192 medical marijuana dispensaries in the state.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio
/

A federal judge last week permanently blocked Missouri from enforcing a requirement that medical marijuana licenses go to businesses owned by residents of the state.

Following a bench trial Thursday, U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey agreed to grant a permanent injunction. Her written order has not yet been filed. News of the injunction was first reported by the cannabis newsletter GrownIn.

Laughrey granted a temporary injunction against the requirement in June in response to a 2020 lawsuit filed by Mark Toigo, a marijuana investor from Pennsylvania and minority owner in a Missouri business awarded several licenses.

A constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2018 that legalized medical marijuana requires facilities to be “majority owned by natural persons who have been citizens of the state of Missouri for at least one year prior to the application.”

Toigo argues in his lawsuit that Missouri’s medical marijuana market is expected to reach retail sales of $175 million to $275 million a year. But because of the residency rules he is prohibited from investing more money into any Missouri company if it increases his ownership stakes above 49%.

The requirement, the lawsuit says, “limits Mr. Toigo’s economic opportunities in Missouri’s nascent marijuana industry.”

In her June ruling granting a temporary injunction, Laughrey wrote that the public interest is best served by “the protection of Toigo’s constitutional right to fully participate in the medical marijuana business in Missouri on the same footing as a Missouri resident, a right that is likely being violated by the state’s durational residency requirement.”

In September, Missouri reported $22.9 million in medical marijuana sales, bringing the total amount purchased in Missouri to $136 million since retail sales began in late October of last year.

The Department of Health and Senior Services could not be immediately reached for comment on the injunction or if there were any plans for an appeal.

Missouri Independent is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Missouri Independent maintains editorial independence.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.