Missouri’s medical marijuana program is in full bloom a year after its first legal sale, with advocates expecting more than $200 million in sales by the end of 2021.
The industry is exceeding expectations in terms of revenue. More than $136 million has come in so far in 2021, with around $20 million in sales last month alone. The Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has reported five consecutive months of substantial sales growth.
Nearly 200 dispensaries, 89 manufacturing facilities, and 62 cultivation sites have been granted licenses by DHSS thus far, with more than 150 retail locations open so far. While there’s a higher concentration of dispensaries and facilities in St. Louis and Kansas City, facilities are now active in every region of the state with several in Columbia and one in Jefferson City.
More than 146,700 Missourians have received patient and caregiver licenses, and 5,200 Missourians have been approved to work in medical marijuana facilities so far.
The program has exploded across the board since the end of 2020: 56,488 patient licenses were approved last year.
“Nearly 150,000 Missouri patients and caregivers have safe, convenient, and reliable access to a wide array of products from the more than 150 retail outlets approved to operate statewide,” said The Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association (MoCannTrade) Executive Director Andrew Mullins. “That access and affordability will only continue to increase as the state’s remaining license holders come online later this year and in 2022.”
State law requires fees and taxes collected from facilities and patients to go toward the Missouri Veterans Commission (MVC). DHSS made its first transfer in September, directing more than $2.1 million to the commission.
The program continues to evolve: A recent court decision enjoined the state from enforcing a measure blocking out-of-state investors from the medical marijuana market, dropping the residency requirement and expanding the program further.
The first legal medical marijuana sale in Missouri took place on Oct. 17, 2020, in Manchester. The patient who made that first purchase, Larry Simpson, returned to a fully-stocked and expanded N’Bliss Cannabis Sunday to commemorate the milestone.
“We’re so fortunate to be a part of the medical cannabis industry and be first to market,” said N’Bliss CEO Brad Goette. “Now seeing more dispensaries open across the state so patients can get the medicine they need and deserve is extremely gratifying.”
“I think if people educate themselves and understand this isn’t taboo, they’ll know it truly helps people in need,” he continued.
Missouri’s medical marijuana program was established by 2018’s Amendment 2. The measure created a framework where physicians may recommend marijuana or marijuana products to treat nine qualifying conditions — such as PTSD, seizures, cancer, and epilepsy — and “any other chronic, debilitating or other medical condition” at the professional judgment of the physician.
Recreational marijuana could also be on the ballot next year. Legal Missouri 22 and Fair Access Missouri, two competing groups seeking to legalize adult marijuana use and expunge nonviolent cannabis-related criminal records, are working their way through the initiative petition process.
Cameron Gerber studied journalism at Lincoln University. Prior to Lincoln, he earned an associate’s degree from State Fair Community College. Cameron is a native of Eldon, Missouri.
Contact Cameron at email@example.com.