Revised rules will allow for Medical Marijuana consumption at businesses with liquor licenses
A rule change regarding the business conduct of licensed liquor retailers in Missouri has been modified to avoid complete restriction of marijuana use in those spaces.
The original draft of the rule, published in July, reads as “No person holding a license for the retail sale of intoxicating liquor may permit any person to smoke or imbibe medical marijuana on or about the licensed premises or create any non-public or quasi-public areas on or about the licensed premise for medical marijuana usage.” That wording would unilaterally restrict the consumption of medical marijuana anywhere on the premise of a business with a liquor license.
During the comment period, Missouri Cannabis Trade Association (MoCann Trade) advocated for a change in language that would not bar all use of medical marijuana on the premises, encouraging regulators to allow for private consumption.
The trade association was the only party to speak to the medical marijuana restrictions in the proposed rules. The involvement of MoCann Trade was successful as the association’s feedback was heard and changes to the rule were made that allow for consumption at private events.
The rule now reads, “No person holding a license for the retail sale of intoxicating liquor may permit any person to smoke or imbibe marijuana on or about the licensed premises or create any non-public or quasi-public areas on or about the licensed premises for marijuana usage anytime when intoxicating liquor is being sold, displayed for sale, or consumed.”
While the language of the rule still effectively restricts any business with a liquor license from allowing the consumption of marijuana and alcohol to take place simultaneously, even in private areas or by separate parties, the rule does provide an opportunity for businesses without being forced to choose between allowing medical marijuana consumption or maintaining their liquor license.
The text continues, “This provision may not preclude a licensee from hosting a private event during which persons holding a valid medical marijuana patient ID card issued by the Department of Health and Senior Services smoke or imbibe medical marijuana in a designated nonpublic or quasi-public area on or about the licensed premises,” that distinction means that facilities with liquor licenses will still be able to allow consumption at private events, but that there are additional steps and requirements that will make such activity burdensome to businesses who hold liquor licenses.
“To be eligible, the event must occur during allowable hours of operation pursuant to section 311.290, RSMo, or any other provision of Chapter 311 relating to opening and closing; no intoxicating liquor may be sold, displayed for sale, or consumed on or about the licensed premises, and all refrigerators, cabinets, cases, boxes, and taps from which intoxicating liquor is dispensed shall be kept securely locked during the event; and written approval must be obtained from the supervisor of alcohol and tobacco control prior to the event.”
This means licensees will need to seek and obtain written approval prior to any event where medical marijuana would be consumed, additionally all liquor sales and liquor consumption would be forbidden during the event, and all access to liquor – including display, will need to be restricted.
For venues, hotels, conference centers, bed and breakfasts, and others – the language of the rule is not as lenient or open as some had hoped, but the success of MoCann Trade in advocating for some allowance for businesses is a significant step forward from the original proposal.
“Part of our job at MoCannTrade is keeping a close eye on all parts of government to ensure that while operators and industry participants are working every single day to serve patients, there aren’t adverse decisions being made by the legislative or executive branch that will hurt their ability to serve patients,” said MoCann Trade Executive Director, Andrew Mullins, “In that vein, late this summer our staff and consultants notice a proposed rule from the Missouri Department of Public Safety that would have prohibited the consumption of medical marijuana on any premises which holds a liquor license, with no exceptions. While we didn’t think this would be a major issue for our members, it did strike us as overly broad.”
“One of the challenges of state government rulemaking is the speed at which it happens. In this case, this proposed rule had a very short public comment period and likely would have been an officially promulgated rule, absent our involvement. We were quickly able to set up a call with the Department and understand their motivation behind this proposed rule. After that call, we worked with MoCannTrade lawyers and our Governmental Affairs Committee to draft an alternative that would have allowed consumption at venues that held liquor licenses, as long as liquor wasn’t being served at the same time,” Mullins continued. “I’m proud that the Missouri Department of Public Safety changed its rules to reflect this compromise. Compared to some DHSS rulemaking, the original proposed rule wouldn’t have greatly impacted the medical marijuana program or industry. But it was gratifying to see an executive branch department take our point of view into consideration and agree to a common-sense compromise.”
With the legalization of adult use marijuana in November and a December 8 effective date, it is anticipated that the rules will be revisited and revised again in 2023.