Opinion: More medical marijuana industry opportunities coming to Missouri

   

We suspected Missouri’s new medical marijuana industry would attract attention, but the outpouring of interest from Missourians wanting to be involved in this industry has far exceeded any expectations. Working together we can ensure that Missouri’s program becomes a model for the entire country. A program that, first and foremost, serves patients and veterans, while fostering a healthy industry that generates jobs and economic opportunities that will truly benefit Missouri communities. 

At the Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association (MoCannTrade) we aim to ensure a safe, well-regulated and thriving medical marijuana industry in Missouri. The law governing the program officially took effect on December 6, nearly a month after Missourians overwhelming voted to approve the constitutional amendment on the November ballot. In fact, medical marijuana was the most popular issue of any measure or candidate in Missouri’s 2018 general election. 

Already last month the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) released the initial numbers on pre-applications and pre-application fees for those applying for licenses under Missouri’s new medical marijuana program. DHSS’ initial numbers show a rapidly growing interest and investment in the new industry. The agency says it has received over 400 forms and more than $3 million in fees just weeks after the pre-application filing date opened, despite applications for licenses likely not being due until later this summer. Missourians should see this as promising news. 

Last year, Colorado alone reached nearly $1 billion in marijuana sales, generating over $200 million in tax revenue. A report from New Frontier Data projects the national medical sales of marijuana to grow to $5.9 billion next year with nearly 2.4 million medical marijuana patients. Because of the vote in November, Missouri can now take part in one of the nation’s fastest-growing industries.

But for Missourians to take full advantage of these opportunities, they need to be informed. Our trade association is proud to play a leading role in helping educate Missourians about Missouri’s medical marijuana program. Since the new law has taken effect, we’ve hosted 16 free events throughout the state from Springfield to St. Louis, with over 2,000 participants coming to hear more about the new industry and program. 

In March, MoCannTrade is hosting the largest medical marijuana industry conference in the history of the state. MoCannBizCon + Expo is less than thirty days away on March 11 and 12 in St. Louis at the historic Union Station. It will feature keynotes, panel discussions, and workshops on every aspect of Missouri’s new industry. Lyndall Fraker, recently appointed as Missouri’s Director of Medical Marijuana at the Department of Health and Senior Services, will welcome participants and give the opening keynote. Hundreds of seasoned industry veterans across the country will be in Missouri to speak, provide insight and share their expertise on successful practices. 

The second day of the expo kicks off by highlighting female entrepreneurs in the industry. The special event, “Women in Cannabusiness: Industry Leaders Who Broke the Glass Ceiling,” features three prominent female leaders: Mitch Meyers, CEO of BeLeaf, Dina Rollman, President of the Illinois Women in Cannabis non-profit and Chief Counsel for Green Thumb Industries, and Sally Vander Veer, CEO of Medicine Man. MoCannTrade believes Missouri has the opportunity to be a leader in growing female representation in the industry and these voices will elevate that platform. 

MoCannTrade is also heavily invested in expanding physician education and awareness. Our advisory board includes five medical doctors and a committee focused on healthcare education and training. Last month we unveiled a medical cannabis industry primer put together by our physician board members for doctors and practitioners providing a broad overview of medical cannabis as medicine as well as the physician responsibilities and legal protections provided by Amendment 2.

Medical marijuana is a game changer for Missouri patients. At MoCannTrade, we want to make sure all groups, patients, veterans, industry participants, and residents can benefit from Missouri’s new program and industry. Part of that is helping bring events like the MoCannBizCon + Expo to Missouri. 

From patients wanting to access the program to entrepreneurs wanting to get in on the ground floor of this industry, MoCannTrade looks forward to continuing to be the source for information about Missouri’s medical marijuana program. Missourians can learn more by visiting www.mocanntrade.org. We look forward to seeing many of you at the state’s largest ever medical marijuana conference in March.