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Missouri’s medical marijuana program saw high demand in 2020

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — More than 56,000 patients obtained medical marijuana licenses in Missouri last year, according to new information from the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS).

In addition to the 56,488 new licensees reported in the program’s second year, 12,062 patient licenses were renewed. DHSS also began inspections on facilities last year, approving 17 dispensary facilities, 10 cultivation operations, two testing labs, two transportation centers, and a manufacturing operation. 

The data was compiled in an annual report from DHSS’s Section for Medical Marijuana Regulation. 

“It is an honor to be a part of the great success of this new medical industry in Missouri,” Director Lyndall Fraker said. “Our goal is to provide a safe, well-regulated, and patient-focused program second to none in our great nation. Our success undeniably proves we have accomplished this goal in a timely manner, meeting all of our constitutional obligations as decided by the citizens of the great state of Missouri.”

About 23 months passed between the passage of the medical marijuana legalization law and the first sale in October, beating the national average of 29 months, according to the report. While the COVID-19 pandemic caused a delay for some facilities and forced the section’s employees to work from home for much of the year, the department reported few operational challenges and continued to work closely with facilities to continue cultivating and providing their product.

A majority of the state’s patients are between the ages of 30-39, coming in at more than 24 percent of the licensed population. More than 2,000 patients received licenses to deal with cancer, while nearly 21,000 licenses were prescribed for psychiatric conditions and 17,500 for chronic medical conditions. 

State law requires fees and taxes collected from facilities and patients to go toward the Missouri Veterans Commission (MVC). DHSS made its first transfer to the commission in September, directing more than $2.1 million to MVC. 

A handful of license revocations occurred during the program’s second year, including four transportation facilities and one dispensary. There were 22 active transportation permits by the end of 2020.

The program’s second year was primarily focused on licensure, verification, and inspections. DHSS plans to increase public engagement while implementing and enforcing clearer regulations for facilities and patients. 

The state’s first cultivation facility opened in St. Louis County in June 2020. More than 130 facilities are operating in Missouri, and 379 have been licensed. The state began issuing licenses last year after meeting with interested parties and drafting regulations throughout 2019.  

Data was collected throughout the program’s second year of operations between Dec. 2019-Dec. 2020. 

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.