The newly elected Missouri state auditor, Scott Fitzpatrick, launched a formal investigation into how the state oversees its medical and recreational marijuana industries, fulfilling a campaign pledge he made last year in his run for the office.
According to The Missouri Independent, the audit kicked off on Aug. 2 when auditors met with officials from the Department of Health and Senior Services, which houses the state Division of Cannabis Regulation, the state agency tasked with overseeing the marijuana trade. Fitzpatrick told The Independent he aims to ensure that the state is regulating cannabis companies “in a manner that is efficient, accountable, and transparent.”
The idea for the audit stems from the nascent nature of the industry and its size, Fitzpatrick told The Independent.
“The rules and regulations promulgated for these programs govern hundreds of marijuana facilities all across Missouri that cultivate and sell cannabis products to hundreds of thousands of Missourians each year,” Fitzpatrick told the newspaper.
One political flashpoint in Missouri has been that ownership of marijuana businesses and licenses are kept confidential by the DHSS, and there have been reports of irregular scoring in the permitting process, accusations of nepotism, and other criticisms that led Fitzpatrick to launch the audit.
Even prior to recreational legalization, there were federal grand jury subpoenas served in 2019 and 2020 to medical marijuana regulators in connection with corruption allegations, and the FBI interviewed lawmakers and stakeholders about the licensing process.
Fitzpatrick was also an outspoken opponent of the ballot measure that legalized recreational marijuana just last November, which he said was tantamount to a “government-mandated monopoly” for the existing licensed medical marijuana companies, The Independent reported. (Full Story)