State approves nearly 65,000 patients, caregivers — with another nearly 10K more in process
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — On the eve of retail medical marijuana sales in Missouri, the number of prospective patients and caregivers continues to surge — with state regulators simultaneously approving dozens of new businesses and hundreds of new employees in the blooming industry.
As of Monday, Oct. 5, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services had approved a total of 64,634 applications from patients and caregivers, with more than 10,000 additional applications awaiting review
The state also reports granting final operating approval to 15 medical cannabis businesses through the end of last week: nine dispensaries, five cultivation sites and one testing lab. DHSS has also Issued nearly 400 of the required state ID cards for Missouri medical cannabis industry workers as businesses prepare to welcome patients later this month.
We can’t deny that standing up a brand-new industry amid a global pandemic has at times been a challenge for our members and the state,” said Andrew Mullins, executive director of the Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association (MoCannTrade). “But we are now just a matter of weeks, if not days, away from making history. “
Even accounting for the pandemic, the 23-month stretch between Missouri voter approval of what is now Article XIV in the state Constitution and the start of patient access to medical cannabis compares favorably to program rollouts in other states.
Data collected by the state shows that since 2005, 16 of the 20 states to implement medical marijuana programs took at least 20 months to do so, with 11 taking at least 30 months and four states (Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland and Rhode Island) approaching, or exceeding 40 months.
Further, with the exception of Oklahoma, the few states that topped Missouri’s implementation timetable (and most of the others) opened for business with a fraction of the Show-Me State’s 348 approved business licenses or our close-to 65,000 patient count.
Overall, Missouri ranks fifth-fastest to market out of the 21 states to pass medical marijuana since 2005.
In Arkansas, for example, medical cannabis patients had to wait 2.5 years from voter approval to the culmination of retail sales, with only 32 dispensaries (compared to the 192 approved in Missouri) and fewer than 12,000 patients initially.
And in Illinois – a state with twice as many residents as Missouri – it took 22 months to launch just 55 dispensaries, which after nearly three years in operation were providing medical cannabis to fewer than 40,000 patients – or just about half the number of applications received in Missouri before retail sales even began.
“From our perspective, we’ve seen how hard both business owners and state regulators have worked to meet patient interest and demand as quickly as possible while ensuring the program’s safe, legal and thorough implementation,” Mullins said. “As we prepare for the beginning of an entire new chapter in Missouri history, we commend those operators and overseers alike for their diligence and commitment, especially amidst these unprecedented times.”
The Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association (MoCannTrade) is an association of business owners, health care providers, professionals, patients and residents responsible for helping to implement a successful, safe and compliant medical marijuana program in Missouri.
The membership-based association is directed by a board of diverse professionals experienced in medical marijuana, healthcare, law, pharmaceuticals, science, agriculture, law enforcement, security, commercial real estate, finance, public affairs and regulatory sectors.
To learn more about MoCannTrade please visit www.mocanntrade.org.