A Missouri judge found today that law creating the state’s medical marijuana program did not conflict with the Missouri constitution, putting to rest one of the biggest challenges to the state’s recently launched program. The plaintiff, Sarcoxie Nursery from near Joplin and owned by the Callicoat family, charged that the state’s cannabis laws and rules were in conflict with a 2014 state constitutional amendment, “The Right To Farm”.
Dr. Paul Callicoat, co-owner of Sarcoxie Nursery, released a statement hours after the judgement stating, “We intend to appeal today’s decision…Allowing all applicants who meet the state’s legal requirements to participate in this industry is the only way to ensure patients have access to the high-quality, safe and affordable medical marijuana that they need and deserve.”
Judge Patricia Joyce, who is set to retire at the end of this month, cited a previous 1996 Missouri case that established, “When an irreconcilable conflict exists between constitutional sections, the section passed last in time prevails.” Unlike most states that merely pass enacting laws, Missouri’s medical marijuana program was created by constitutional amendment, in 2018. Thus, Judge Joyce ruled, the 2018 marijuana language prevails over the 2014 Right To Farm amendment.
If Judge Joyce had found in favor of the defendant, the entire state program could have been turned over, revoking the state’s controversial limited number of licenses. Instead, in her order, Judge Joyce found in favor of the state on multiple issues raised by Sarcoxie Nursery, who had asked that the state find the rulemaking process illegal, and that awarding score increases to license applicants due to economic conditions around a license location was illegal. Judge Joyce found in favor of the state in every example.
In the case of extra application points due to local economic conditions, Joyce wrote, “the State has a legitimate government interest in improving the economic conditions of communities within the state.”