Recreational Marijuana was legalized a year ago. Here's how Springfield market is growing
It has been a little over one year since recreational, adult-use marijuana first became available for purchase in the state of Missouri — and what a year it was.
According to the Department of Health and Senior Services, cumulative sales of legal marijuana in Missouri, both medical and recreational, nearly topped $2 billion by the end of 2023, with sales of recreational marijuana accounting for more than $940 million of that total.
Amy Moore, director of the Division of Cannabis Regulation in Missouri, said there was "unexpectedly high interest" in the rollout of the recreational marijuana program, which was legalized by Missouri voters in November 2022.
As of Thursday, more than 200 dispensary licensees have been approved to operate in Missouri, 12 of which are in Springfield, according to the Department of Health and Senior Services. More than 50 cultivation facilities — marijuana grow sites — have been approved to operate in Missouri too. The closest to Springfield are in Humansville and Joplin.
Sales tax proceeds for veterans, addiction resources, others
Article 14 instituted a 6% sales tax on all recreational marijuana and marijuana products. This sales tax was to be distributed to the Department of Health and Senior Services for regulating the program, government entities responsible for awarding criminal record expungements, and the Missouri Veterans Commission, drug addiction treatment agencies and the Missouri State Public Defender System.
More than $3.8 million was transferred to the three latter beneficiaries, including more than $1.2 to the Missouri Veterans Commission, Substance Use Disorder grants program and Missouri State Public Defender System, according to a news release. The Missouri Veterans Commission received an addition $13 million from the state's medical marijuana sales tax.
State agency unveils new cannabis podcast, newsletter
Speaking with the News-Leader, Moore said one of the Division of Cannabis Regulation's goals for 2024 is heightened community outreach.
One step in this direction is the creation of a new podcast called the "DCR Podcast." Available on YouTube, the podcast launched Friday. In the first 16-minute episode, Tara McKinney, public outreach director for the division, and Shayna Arndt, deputy director for patient and application services for the division, discuss the history of Missouri's marijuana industry.
The division is also be publishing a quarterly newsletter, "The Cannabis Connection," which is available on the Department of Health and Senior Services website.
In conjunction with the one-year anniversary, Springfieldians can also expect a few changes on a local level, including the opening of a new dispensary.
New Good Day Farm dispensary to open in 1-2 months
Signage for a new Good Day Farm dispensary on East Sunshine Street has been up and ready for some time now. The dispensary is expected to open in one to two months, following a positive state inspection, Good Day Farm General Manager Zach Treacy told the News-Leader.
Good Day Farm East Sunshine will be located at 1510 E. Sunshine St., formerly a branch of Guaranty Bank. Treacy said this new location will replace the current Good Day Farm East location at 1668 S. Glenstone Ave. Following approval from the state, Good Day Farm East will conduct an "overnight move" to its new location.
Treacy said Good Day Farm East Sunshine will offer a more traditional retail experience. While live product will not be available on the salesfloor — budtenders will still need to package these from behind a counter — shoppers will have the chance to browse packaging in a more hands-on way.
Good Day Farm East Sunshine will also feature a "flower tower," Treacy said. This will include 30-40 different marijuana flower buds in magnified jars. The location will also have a drive-thru.
In addition to its current East location, Good Day Farm operates a South location at 3903 S. Campbell Ave. and a West location at 3800 W. Sunshine St. Suite 100.
Michigan company buys out The Farmer's Wife
In addition to a new dispensary, one of Springfield's early brands has a new name and look.
In December 2023, C3 Industries, a national marijuana company based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, acquired The Farmer's Wife's three dispensaries in Springfield, Mountain Grove and West Plains. The Farmer's Wife first opened in 2021 with the legalization of medical marijuana.
These three dispensaries, including the one at 2935 E. Chestnut Expressway, are now called High Profile.
The acquisition of a marijuana dispensary is similar to the acquisition of any other type of business, C3 Industries CEO Ankur Rungta told the News-Leader.
"The only nuance in cannabis is that in order to buy another license, you have to get approval from the state regulator, from the (Department of Health and Senior Services)," Rungta explained. "When you enter into an agreement to buy another license, then you submit a request to the regulator to change the ownership of that license, they review the documents ... and then once the regulator actually approves the acquisition and change of ownership of the licenses, that's when the transition actually closes."
Rungta did not disclose how much C3 Industries paid to acquire The Farmer's Wife licenses.
Following the acquisition, C3 Industries has been busy remodeling the three dispensaries. The Springfield location reopened on Jan. 29, but an official grand opening will be held during St. Patrick's Day weekend — March 15-17.
In addition to a remodel, High Profile will feature a wider selection of Cloud Cover, C3 Industries' marijuana flower brand. In the case of the Springfield, Mountain Grove and West Plains dispensaries, Cloud Cover is grown at C3 Industries' cultivation location in O'Fallon.
"We know there is a really loyal, local customer base and they have a great brand and I think a great presence there," Rungta said. "While we try to enhance the experience, we're not taking something away that customers liked from going to those locations. We're trying to find a good way to bridge the gap between what they were doing and some of the things that we offer."
In Missouri, C3 Industries also operates High Profile dispensaries in Cape Girardeau, Columbia, St. Charles, St. Robert and St. Louis. C3 Industries has been active in the cannabis industry for about six years and owns dispensaries and cultivation facilities in Michigan, Illinois, New Jersey and Massachusetts.
Arizona's Cannabis Business Advisors receives microbusiness license in Springfield
While the majority of the recreational marijuana transition has been seamless, there have been a few hiccups. The most notable is the unveiling of the marijuana microbusiness industry.
In October 2023, the Division of Cannabis Regulation issued the state's first 48 marijuana microbusiness licenses. Microbusiness licenses are a part of Article 14's framework, intended to allow more "everyday folks" to participate in the marijuana industry. Those who apply for microbusiness licenses must meet certain criteria, such as making under a certain income bracket or residing in a ZIP code with a higher poverty level.
Of the 48 marijuana microbusiness licenses issues in October, one was awarded in Springfield to High Aroma LLC. Specifically, the license was awarded to Maxime Kot, who is the president of Cannabis Business Advisors in Phoenix, Arizona. The business offers consultation services within the marijuana industry for license acquisitions, applications, facility operations and marketing, according to its website.
Since the issuance of these microbusiness licenses, 11 licensees have received a notice of pending revocation, meaning these licensees may not have met the state's requirements. One of these was High Aroma LLC.
When a licensee receives a notice of pending revocation, the licensee is also provided a 30-day response period. During this time a licensee must "submit records or information demonstrating why the license should not be revoked," Lisa Cox, public affairs officer, told the News-Leader. The Department of Health and Senior Services then conducts a "documentation review" to determine if the provided information meets the eligibility requirements. The department has yet to announce the findings of this review.
The News-Leader contacted Cannabis Business Advisors but was unsuccessful in reaching a team member for a comment by deadline.