KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Some Missourians are scrambling right now applying to get a Microbusiness license to open up a marijuana business in the state.

The applications are only accepted for two weeks, between April 15 and April 29.

It’s intended to give people who quality a chance to benefit from a booming marijuana industry in the state that already has boasted more than a billion dollars in sales in its first year.

“[New microbusiness licenses] will add quite a bit of new competition and that’s good for consumers,” said National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) Missouri Coordinator and National Board Chair Dan Viets.

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He says the Microbusiness process allows qualifying applicants to diversify who is involved in the cannabis industry in the state.

“We cannot write a law that says that a certain percentage of licenses go to people of a certain ethnic background,” said Viets. “That has been repeatedly stricken by the federal courts.”

The five criteria to be eligible for the program are:

A networth less than $250,000 and have an income below 250% for the federal poverty income guidelines for at least three of the last ten years.

A U.S. Military Veteran with a service-related disability

Have a marijuana conviction or a parent, guardian, or spouse with on at least one year befor ethe effective date

Live in certain ZIP codes

Have attended certain school districts

“As long as we keep the taxes in line and don’t artificially increase the prices, then I think the legal market will eventually essentially wipe out the illegal market just as alcohol being legalized wiped out bootleggers,” Viets said.

Canna Answers’ Deb Nash is a consultant helping applicants fill out their paperwork and says the process gives applicants a chance at a life-changing business opportunity. But first, they have to win the license lottery and overcome some pretty formidable challenges.

She says many applicants might have the means to build out a business should they win, but someone who qualifies for the microbusiness license because of their net worth and low income might struggle.

“That’s a challenge especially in cannabis when you can’t just open loans like you can in a lot of lines of businesses,” Nash said, referring to the complicated relationship between most financial institutions and cannabis businesses.

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Including applicants with previous marijuana convictions is meant to help right historic wrongs, but the expungement process that FOX4 has reported on has wiped away more than 100,000 convictions and the documents proving they ever existed.

“If your charge is expunged, why do you have to prove your arrest,” Nash said. “You know what, they erase when they expunge your charge? Your arrest record. So I have people looking for things that don’t exist.”

The application window closes April 29 with licenses being issued in July.