KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Dre Taylor is one of 2,100 applicants hoping to open a medical marijuana facility in Missouri.
He’s hoping his experience founding and operating Nile Valley Aquaponics at East 29th Street and Wabash Avenue will give him a leg-up.
“As the water goes through, it provides nutrients for our plants and our plants are able to grow,” Taylor explained.
Aquaponics is a system that raises fish, and the fish waste is turned into nutrients to feed plants.
“Basically, the same principle would be used to grow medical marijuana,” Taylor said.
He said the method of recycling water eliminates the need to add chemicals to help the plants grow.
Taylor's goal is to open facilities for cultivation, manufacturing and dispensing. He wants to get into the medical marijuana industry in same spirit he started Nile Valley Aquaponics.
“I was advocating for more minority participation, being less than three percent of the industry, by being able to supply jobs, education, and grow healthy medical marijuana chemical-free,” Taylor explained.
Less than a quarter of the applicants will be approved. The state will award 348 business licenses: 192 for dispensaries, 86 for manufacturing facilities, 60 for cultivation facilities, and 10 for testing facilities.
The state will come out with a breakdown of facility types and locations in the next few weeks.
The application is exhaustive. There are more than 100 questions that require complicated answers.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services opened up the application process for facilities at the start of August and closed it Monday afternoon. The office received 800 applications in the last 24 hours of it being open.
“There wasn't a lot of emphasis on minority participation. So I don't think it'll turn around due to the way Missouri set it up and the laws and regulations. So that was my reason for getting into the industry was to try to change the narrative,” Taylor said.
Now, it’s a waiting game. The state is required to respond to applicants within 150 days of when the application was submitted.
Missouri made $5.3 million from application fees.
The state is paying Wise Health Solutions nearly $23,000 to score and evaluate each application. Each application will be done anonymously, so the scorer won't see who the applicant is.
According to bid documents, the state will pay Wise Health Solutions per application. The rates include $940 for dispensing, $948 for manufacturing, $943 for cultivation, and $1,172 for testing. It will also pay $215 per hour for consulting.
Chad Westom of Veracious oversaw Nevada’s medical marijuana regulations and is heading up the Wise Health project.