A little less than a year after the state made its first medical marijuana sale, Missouri’s medical marijuana program has swelled to more than 140 dispensaries.
According to local television station FOX 2 NOW, the “state’s medical cannabis industry employs roughly 5,000 people” and sales have been strong.
“The sales revenue is pleasantly surprising,” Lyndall Fraker, director of the section of medical marijuana with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, told the TV station. “At the end of July, we surpassed $91 million in sales.”
In 2018, voters in Missouri approved a constitutional amendment legalizing medical cannabis with more than 65 percent support. Proponents of the amendment called on the Show Me State to open at least 192 dispensaries, a threshold that Fraker said Missouri is likely to reach.
“The amendment that was voted on said that we should open the minimum number at least, which was 192 dispensaries,” Fraker said, as quoted by FOX 2 NOW. “As of today, we have 142 open. We’ve done the math, and based on the number of quantities that each patient can purchase each month, how much product it would take to serve the patient base, and we think we are going to be good for five or six years.”
In October of last year, Missouri’s first dispensaries opened their doors to long lines. With the success of the medical marijuana program, Missourians may be emboldened to take the next step and embrace legalization of recreational pot use.
Earlier this year, a Republican lawmaker in Missouri said it’s time for the state to go in that direction.
“We spend more time and more law enforcement resources going after marijuana smokers than all the other drugs combined,” GOP state House Representative Shamed Dogan said at the time “Ten percent of the arrests in the state of Missouri right now are from marijuana possession.
“I think alcohol prohibition taught us that trying to prohibit something this way, the way we’ve gone about marijuana prohibition, it backfires,” Dogan added. “I mean, you can buy any amount of alcohol you want, right? You can buy any amount of tobacco that you want, so I think it should be regulated the same way.”
Dogan and his colleagues weren’t able to pass a legalization measure this session, but advocates in Missouri have continued to push. In July, a group called Fair Access Missouri filed a petition with the Missouri Secretary of State to legalize recreational marijuana, among other things.
“Today’s filings are the next step in that fight,” the group said in a statement. “We’ve seen across the country that smart rules and an open market are the way to go when legalizing cannabis, and that’s what we’ll be bringing to Missouri.”
Along with recreational pot use, the group is also aiming to “permit state-licensed physicians to recommend marijuana for medical purposes to patients with serious illnesses and medical conditions.”
According to local television station KSHB, the group’s petition, which was filed on July 12, “is still making its way through the initiative petition process, which could take roughly 65 days.”
The station said that Fair Access Missouri “has not yet decided if it will attempt to collect signatures to get the issue on an upcoming ballot.”
Some local leaders in Missouri have not waited for statewide cannabis reform, however. Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas helped successfully pass an ordinance decriminalizing possession and control of marijuana in the city.
“One of the ways we improve police-community relations is by eliminating laws that for too long have led to negative interactions, arrests, convictions and disproportionate rates of incarceration of black men and black women,” Lucas said at the time. “Reducing petty offenses—such as municipal marijuana offenses—reduce these negative interactions each day.”