Missouri voters passed Amendment 2 legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes in November of 2018. About a year later, at the end of 2019, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) awarded 370 business licenses and the clock for buildouts started ticking, only to be adjusted in the ensuing months due to the pandemic.

Across the state, those awarded licenses are continuing to build at a steady clip as they prepare to grow, process and sell cannabis products to qualifying patients in Missouri.

As a member of the Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association, we’ve worked with numerous owners in different stages of the process to open their business, and compiled a few construction-related best practices, below.

Who’s in Charge?: Missouri DHSS is the lead agency for the state’s medical marijuana program and oversees nearly every aspect from licensure through the commencement inspection and beyond. However, the local municipality’s building department governs the construction process. Each municipality works differently, so after confirming your property is within the city’s limits, communicate with your city representatives early and often. Your general contractor can help guide you here.

By the Book: Everything, and we mean every single thing, that you included in your application regarding your physical space should be on your plans so there is no confusion as to what the regulations require. When your architect is drawing up the plans, they should have a copy of your application so that all of the details – from where the cameras go to the number of POS (point-of-service) machines – are detailed out for your builder.

Security: In the medical marijuana industry, security will be part of everything you do, and a security consultant should be brought on in the early stages to work through the design of your space. From the Sallyport to the locks on your trash, security will drive the design of your space.

Planning for the Future: While marijuana is currently legal in Missouri for medical purposes only, voters could follow the trend in other states and legalize recreational marijuana. If/when Missouri “goes rec”, the design of your space will need to mirror that new reality. Think about where your customers will stand while they wait, if you have adequate parking, online ordering, restroom access and more.

Cost Control: It’s no secret that construction costs are rising across the board. The question now is how to best meet the state’s requirements (and your investors’ requests) while keeping costs under control. Talk to your general contractor about value engineering – or finding less expensive materials that won’t significantly alter your design – and try to lock in prices early before they rise even more. Invest your funds at the front of the house where those dollars can bring returns and consolidate space in the back of the house as much as possible.

Rules & Regulations: This “budding” industry in Missouri is still new, and communicating with the inspector, the state, your architect and your general contractor will be key. As an owner, you are the backbone of the operation and the quarterback of this team- be sure to share feedback with your entire team to ensure everyone is marching toward the same goal.

The cannabis business isn’t unlike other regulated industries in that you need to make sure your I’s are dotted and your T’s are crossed. We always recommend involving your general contractor early to help the construction process run smoothly.