Marijuana Lobby Pushes Missouri Legislator to Limit Licenses | Marijuana

JEFFERSON CITY — A major seller of candy bars and marijuana-infused vape cartridges this week pushed the author of the so-called Cannabis Freedom Act to cap cannabis business licenses in his plan to fully legalize the drug, a said the legislator.

representing Ron HicksR-Defiance, sponsor of the cannabis legalization effort, said it met with Josh Mitchem, CEO of Clovr Cannabisand others, including lobbyist Thomas Robbins, on Capitol Hill to discuss the plan.

The meeting came at a time when discussions on cannabis legalization are heating up in the Legislative Assembly, where the May 13 deadline for approving the bills looms. Meanwhile, supporters of a competing ballot initiative, Legal Missouri 2022, face a May 8 deadline to get about 183,000 signatures to participate in the November ballot.

Representative Ron Hicks, R-Defiance (Tim Bommel/House Communications)

Tim Bomel

Hicks said he initiated the meeting with marijuana industry representatives.

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“I’m not happy with people fighting my legislation,” he said.

“Don’t fight my legislation,” Hicks said. “Come talk to me about my legislation. What do you not like ? Because we are trying to achieve the same thing. And that’s the part that I didn’t understand – that’s why you fight me on this? »

Hicks said Mitchem and others have expressed a desire for the legislation to cap business licensing; Hicks’ bill does not limit the industry.

“Honestly, I think the whole band, everybody, doesn’t like the free side of my legislation,” Hicks said. “Not everyone in this group liked my free market side.”

Industry insiders like Mitchem support Legal Missouri, which gives current medical marijuana licensees the first chance at full business licenses and allows the state to maintain caps.

Josh Mitchem

Josh Mitchem (Photo courtesy of Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association)

Proponents claim it’s to protect the state from too much marijuana, but the vote issue would also give current licensees an advantage over others trying to break into the industry.

This follows the particularly controversial rollout of the state’s medical marijuana program, which initially limited licenses to grow, process and sell pot to 338. Applicants who failed to obtain licenses filed petitions. Hundreds of calls to state and lawmakers investigated the program.

“I think they’re just waiting to see what I do with my legislation, if I’m going to make it a free market or if I’m going to cap it,” Hicks said Thursday. “And I’ll be honest with you: I don’t know what to do with regards to the selections or not. I mean, as it is right now, I think I’m going to drop the corks.

Hicks said he was fine with limiting the number of cultivators because “we don’t need a surplus.”

Robbins lobbies for Legal Missouri 2022 and the Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association, or MoCannTrade. He works for Strategic Capitol Consulting, the lobbying firm of former House Speaker Steve Tilley, which was also patrolling the halls of the Capitol on Wednesday.

In audio released ahead of a House hearing on Hicks’ bill, Robbins is heard comparing supporters to a “clown car” and said opponents of Hicks’ bill would be presented to committee members as ” the adults in the room”.

“Honestly, I’m not happy about it,” Hicks said. “He’s the guy (Robbins) they hired to, I guess, protect their interests. Now, I have nothing against him doing what he does. It is his job to do. But I will fight him on this. I’m not just going to sit back and let him do his thing without me fighting him the way he fights me.

Hicks’ proposal has 24 co-sponsors in the House, including House Speaker Pro Tem Jean Wiemann, R-O’Fallon. House Minority Leader crystal quadD-Springfield and Rep. Bridget Walsh Moore, D-St. Louis, signed the plan this week.

Robbins did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

Mitchem’s associate company, Green Four Ventures LLC, has invested nearly $150,000 in the Legal Missouri 2022 initiative, according to a review of Missouri Ethics Commission records.

It is unclear whether Mitchem will receive a return on his investment.

John Payne, campaign manager for Legal Missouri 2022, did not respond to a question this week about how many signatures his campaign has garnered so far, instead sending a statement saying Missourians are signing “enthusiastically.” “the petition every day.

At the same time, grassroots cannabis activist groups mobilized against Legal Missouri, withholding their signatures and protesting against the proposed question.

The Post-Dispatch reported in July on the behind-the-scenes editorial staff of Legal Missouri 2022.

Kyle Kisner, a marijuana advocate who had worked on the project, told industry insiders Post-Dispatch that they lobbied for early licensing to maintain their competitive advantage.

“It’s to give them an inside track and to allow them to get a foothold and get established and grounded before they have to face competition,” Kisner said last year.

He said Mitchem was involved in the process, at one point coming up with a low-interest loan idea for micro-enterprise license holders. Mitchem payday loan companies operating in the Kansas City area have been accused by the states of New York and Arkansas of predatory practices.

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