Medical marijuana dispensaries in Missouri will begin sales in the coming weeks. This comes almost two years after voters approved a constitutional amendment to legalize medicinal cannabis. So far, the state has approved 192 dispensaries, including seven in Columbia.
Jack Cardetti, spokesperson for the Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association, says the state has already inspected and approved several growing facilities and the rest should be approved soon.
“That means that we're literally weeks, maybe a month away for the first time that a medical marijuana card holder in the state of Missouri can walk into a dispensary and legally purchase medical marijuana,” Cardetti said. “It’s a really exciting time here over the next couple weeks.”
As for when dispensaries will open, Cardetti says it will be a gradual process. Not all dispensaries will open at the same time. That’s because all the medical cannabis sold in Missouri will have to be produced within the state.
“Three of the sixty cultivators are up and growing medical marijuana and those will soon find their way onto the retail shelves, but obviously the dispensaries are wholly dependent on the cultivators to produce that product.”
When dispensaries open, patients will have to show the state-issued medical marijuana cards in order to purchase any products.
“Early on, because cultivation is just happening for the first time most of those products are actually going to be medical marijuana flower, but in the coming months after that they will be able to access different infused products like edibles, vapors, and some of the others,” Cardetti said. “That's really exciting because you know a lot of doctors believe that they want patients to be able to access medical marijuana, but they don't necessarily want them to be smoking if they have certain underlying health conditions.”
He also said he expects the newly created medical cannabis program will have positive impact in Missouri’s economy.
“These 338 businesses across the state, they're hiring thousands of workers is happening right now,” Cardetti said. “It'll also produce millions of tax revenues at a time when the state needs it most.”
Medical marijuana sales will carry a 4 percent sales tax that will go toward funding veteran’s healthcare.
Medical marijuana could also offer alternative treatment options for patient who don’t want to take opioids.
“In some cases, medical marijuana is not going to be a viable treatment option. But in other cases, it clearly will, and we think it's going to be a much safer option than opioids,” Cardetti said. “We've seen what the opioid epidemic has really impacted areas of Missouri and we hope that while medical marijuana is not going to be the complete solution to that problem, we think it can have an impact.”