Missouri took a significant step towards rolling out its medical marijuana program when it issued 10 licenses for testing facilities this week.

Voters gave legalization the green light by voting in favour of Article 14 in November 2018 and the state was compelled to issue licenses for at least two testing labs. They are designed to ensure that the cannabis sold through Missouri’s new medical cannabis dispensaries meets strict safety and purity measures.

A total of 18 businesses applied for testing licenses and in the end Missouri decided to issue 10 of them. The successful facilities will test the cannabis grown in the state for chemicals and mold before it can be supplied to retailers and then dispensed to patients. They will also verify THC levels in the products.

“Because laboratory facilities will be required to work hand-in-hand with our other licensed facilities and they play an important role in the safety of this program, we opted to license ten of these facilities to ensure Missouri patients have access to the best medical marijuana products available,” said Lyndall Fraker, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

The state received more than 2,000 medical marijuana license applications by the deadline it set in August, and it has been wading through them ever since. Most of the applications were for cultivation facilities.

DHSS has pledged to issue 60 cultivation facilities, 192 dispensaries, 86 medical marijuana-infused manufacturing facilities, along with the 10 testing lab facility licenses. Next up will be transportation facilities, which will receive licenses on Monday, Dec. 23, and then cultivation licenses will be granted on Dec. 26.

Dispensary owners will gain their licenses on Jan. 24 and then seed to sale licenses will be granted on Jan. 31, although it is unclear how much cannabis the new dispensaries will actually be able to get their hands on in January.

Successful applicants have 12 days to respond to DHSS emails and then a list will be published next week detailing the scores that all the applicants received. Denial notifications will also be sent to the unsuccessful applicants.

Missouri brought in an outside company to conduct a blind scoring of all applicants in order to decide which ones should be awarded licenses.