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Missouri burns through $1.3 million in veterans’ money in effort to limit marijuana businesses

Seven months after state officials finished awarding medical marijuana business licenses, regulators have spent $1.3 million in court to defend themselves against a wave of lawsuits filed by businesses whose applications the state denied.

Rejected applicants originally filed 853 appeals against the state through the Administrative Hearing Commission, and as of Wednesday, 785 cases were unresolved, said Lisa Cox, spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Senior Services, which runs the medical marijuana division.

The lingering caseload is a reminder of the state medical marijuana program’s rocky rollout, which consumed discussion in the state Capitol early this year before lawmakers high-tailed it from Jefferson City amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Legislators aren’t done probing the program just yet.

The state health department, over the summer, delivered a cache of records to the House Special Committee on Oversight, which hasn’t met since receiving the documents.

The panel could meet this week as lawmakers return to Jefferson City for their annual veto session.

Rep. Peter Merideth, a St. Louis Democrat and member of the committee, predicted Thursday the Republican-led panel would hold a hearing in the “very near future.” [Read more at St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

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