Long Lines In Missouri For The Launch Of Its Medical Marijuana Program

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No, these are not early voters for the 2020 election. The lines we're talking about in Missouri are outside dispensaries, where residents welcome the sale of legal medical marijuana, which has already proven wildly popular in the Show-Me State.

The sales began about two years after Missouri voters approved a constitutional amendment in the November 2018 election that allowed the sale of medical marijuana.

In October, Missouri became the latest “non-coast state” to see the popularity of cannabis explode, joining Illinois and Michigan. Both of those states started adult-use marijuana sales within the past year and have seen record sales.

Two dispensaries owned by N’Bliss in St. Louis County became the first to open in Missouri. More will follow in the weeks and months to come. The state has approved 65,000 patients so far for the medical marijuana program. Another 12,000 await approval to get on the list.

N’Bliss CEO Bradford Goette told Fox 2 in St. Louis: “The patients there are so excited to be able to finally get the medicine they need and deserved for so long.”

A $500 million medical marijuana market—at least.

Missouri is the 34th state to start a legal marijuana program. Projections call for the state to make big profits in the coming years.

State officials expect the cannabis industry’s economic impact in Missouri will include more than 5,700 new jobs and $800 Million in direct spending.

By the end of 2020, about 192 more dispensaries will open across the state. According to the Marijuana Business Factbook, medical sales will reach $200 million in the first full year of sales in 2021. By 2024, sales will climb to between $525 million to $650 million.

Bumps along the road

While nothing compared to the time it took Maine to get its adult-use system up and running, Missouri experienced some bumps along the road to getting the program launched. The biggest issue revolved around the licensing process.

Hundreds of applicants filed appeals after not winning a license, claiming that the state's system played favorites. The system's ensuing scrutiny led to a Missouri House Special Committee on Government Oversight investigation into potential licensing irregularities.

Those included potential conflicts of interest among the officials who made the decisions on which companies received licenses. The agency that oversees the process also has been accused of attempting to block the investigation

Eventually, the state awarded licenses for 60 cultivators, 86 processors, 192 dispensaries, and 10 testing laboratories.

The coronavirus epidemic also led to delays, and eventually, only a few cultivators produced cannabis for the opening of dispensaries. Because of that, consumers in Missouri can expect higher prices for the rest of 2020.

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