The medical cannabis industry in Missouri started off with a bang. The state brought in $13 million in application fees alone, with most of these applicants not receiving licenses and losing out on thousands of dollars. The licensing fees were non-refundable, so applying for a cannabis business license was a huge risk for many applicants.
An Exceptionally Large Number Of Applicants
Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) were blown away by the amount of applications received. Randall Williams, a physician who serves as the director of DHSS, released a statement following the licenses being awarded. He said the state received an “exceptionally large number of applicants.” If the sheer number of applications is any indicator of the industry, it will be a lucrative and thriving one.
As of July 13, 2020, Missouri had over 55,000 approved patients and not a single dispensary is open. Cultivation operations are just beginning to put plants in the ground.
The current number of patients the state has approved far exceeds the number that was predicted. DHSS commissioned a study that estimated 19,000 patients would be approved during the first year, with the study predicting 22,500 to be approved by the end of 2021. There is already such a demand from Missourians for legal access to medical cannabis. It is logical to assume that as time goes on the numbers will continue to grow and cannabis as medicine will become more mainstream in the state of Missouri.
Learning from Maine
Maine legalized medical marijuana in 1999, becoming one of the first states in the US to do so. According to this resource, Maine had 51,324 medical marijuana patients as of 2018. Missouri’s population is a lot larger than Maine’s and while it makes sense mathematically that there would be a larger number of medical marijuana patients in the Show-Me State, it is interesting to look at Maine’s decades-long program. Here we can gain an understanding of just how big Missouri’s cannabis industry could really be as time goes on.
Predictions on Missouri’s Medical Cannabis Market
According to an article published in Greenway Magazine by attorney Christopher McHugh, “Some industry participants are already predicting an initial wholesale price for flower in Missouri of $4,000 per lb. or more…” Publications like Marijuana Business Daily have projected Missouri’s medical cannabis market to generate $300 million in annual sales within a few years of its launch. It is estimated that the Missouri medical cannabis industry will create around 4,000 jobs and create an economic impact of more than $500 million, according to MoCannTrade.
Missouri’s Future in the Adult-Use Cannabis Industry
New Approach Missouri has been collecting signatures in the state to put adult-use cannabis on the ballot for the November election, so it is at the beginning stages. New Approach is the same group that collected signatures to get medical cannabis on the ballot in 2018.
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the organization has put off collecting signatures and aims to be on the ballot in 2022. New Approach began collecting signatures in January – so they were only working at it for a few months before COVID-19 forced them to come to a halt.
“Unfortunately, while there is widespread support from Missourians to tax and regulate marijuana, there is currently no practical way during the COVID-19 outbreak to safely gather the 170,000 plus signatures needed over the remaining four weeks to put our initiative on the Missouri ballot in 2020,” New Approach’s campaign manager, John Payne, told Marijuana Moment. “We know Missourians want this and our supporters from every corner of this state will be back next cycle to put this on the 2022 ballot and finally bring Missouri the benefits of a safe and regulated adult-use marijuana program.”
The initiative would allow adults that are 21+ years of age to purchase cannabis for recreational use at a licensed Missouri retailer. It also includes the option for adults to personally cultivate up to three cannabis plants at home.
Payne continued, “We’ve seen tremendous excitement from across the state for ending the prohibition of adult-use marijuana. Missourians support taxing and regulating marijuana in order to give law enforcement additional resources to focus on serious crime. Eleven other states, including our neighbors in Illinois, are currently reaping the tax revenue from regulated marijuana that we know would be so beneficial to the Show-Me-State.”
Just a side note, Missouri isn’t the only state having to stop efforts to amend or create cannabis laws due to COVID-19. California’s initiative to amend their current cannabis laws has been put on pause, Nebraska’s attempt to legalize medicinal cannabis has been stopped, North Dakota has also stopped their efforts to legalize, and many more states have followed suit. There aren’t too many statistics available for the economic benefit of adult-use cannabis in Missouri. However, Illinois made $75 million of recreational cannabis sales in just two months of being in operation.
If you’re looking for a medical marijuana dispensary in Missouri, head North! Two North Dispensaries, in Hillsboro and Pevely, are coming soon!