Southwest Missouri family sues state over denied medical marijuana license
A southwest Missouri family is suing the state after being denied for a license to grow medical marijuana. Now, they're asking a court to force the Department of Health and Senior Services to stop giving out more licenses.
According to the Department of Health and Senior Services, there were close to 550 applications for medical marijuana cultivation sites in Missouri. Only 60 of those were approved. A family in Joplin is shocked they were were not one of them, and they're now suing the state, saying the scoring for licenses was unfair.
"We wanted to be the best. We still do," said Dr. Paul Callicoat.
Callicoat is frustrated his family's efforts to advocate for medical marijuana in Missouri were all for nothing. Callicoat, a retired cardiologist, and his family bought the Sarcoxie Nursery to start their own medical marijuana growing facility. What started as a business opportunity, he said, turned into a passion.
"We want to provide the most accurately dosed, premium medical marijuana for the patients in the state of Missouri," Callicoat said.
The Callicoat's application was just one of the hundreds denied by the state.
Of all the cultivation licenses approved, none were in or near Springfield. Southwest Missouri, as a whole, will only have four of the 60 grow sites.
Lyndall Fraker, Director of Medical Marijuana Regulation for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said a third party source scored the applications. He said neither he nor his staff had anything to do with who got licenses.
"When we got the numbers we were just as surprised as everyone else," Fraker said.
The Callicoat's believe the scoring was unfair, favoring large corporations over small, homegrown operations like theirs.
So they're asking a judge to grant a temporary restraining order, forcing the Department of Health and Senior Services to stop awarding licenses and regroup.
"Let's figure out what went wrong. Let's not make the problem any worse," Callicoat said.
Fraker could not comment on the Callicoat's pending lawsuit, but said he understands their frustration.
"It is absolutely natural that people that have a lot invested and a lot of anticipation would not be happy," Fraker said. "That's totally understandable. I mean, you know, basically, anyone had a one in six chance in getting a license because of the numbers."
Callicoat said he hopes the state will right what he considers a wrong and rethink its scoring criteria, before more lawsuits are filed.
"It allows us to write rules that are effective, fair and transparent and provides medical marijuana quickly and affordably to the patients of Missouri," Callicoat said.
The lawsuit not only questions the scoring, but also the number of licenses the state is issuing.
Amendment 2, the base law for medical marijuana in Missouri that voters passed, called for a minimum of number of licenses, but set no maximum.
Callicoat said Callicoat says 60 grow sites just won't be enough for the boom he expects for the medical marijuana industry.
Fraker said, however, the wording of the law allowed the state to increase the number of licenses if the minimum was not enough.
"It was our interpretation that the voters wanted us to allow these numbers to get into play first to see if they would meet the demand," Fraker said.
Callicoat said he is optimistic, and wants to see all Missouri residents who applied for licenses be approved.
The lawsuit went before a judge in a Cole County courtroom Monday, and that judge took the issue under advisement.
Fraker said the score cards for all cultivation applicants should be available to the public in a few days.
The DHSS is now set to issue licenses for manufacturing and dispensary sites in January, unless, the judge decides to issue that temporary restraining order the Callicoat's are asking for.
To see the scoring criteria for facility license applications, click
To see the list of all approved and denied cultivation applications, and their scores, click