Many cannabis patients in Missouri who have been eagerly awaiting legalization are frustrated at the lack of progress in the state. A few dispensaries are open, and a few growers are geared up and ready to go, but there are still no resting facilities at all, so none of the cannabis can be legally sold.
“Everyone thought this would be progressed along a little bit faster. We’ve got a little over 60,000 patients that are waiting for guys like me to get up and growing,” John Mueller, CEO of Missouri dispensary Greenlight, said.
The Status of MMJ in MO
Part of the setback has been COVID-19, as shutdowns, cutbacks, and timeline changes have not helped to get testing facilities up and running, but the fact remains that the state is running out of time to get things going for 2021.
“It slowed the industry down. Your planning and zoning, your city council, everyone across the state kind of took a pause,” Mueller said.
Greenlight is currently sitting on a site that is equipped for growing 18,000 cannabis plants. The only thing they are now waiting for is approval from the state to actually plant and grow their crop, and for that, testing facilities need to be available.
The state has resorted to renewing medical cannabis cards for folks automatically, as none of those who were approved for a medical cannabis card currently have access to buying legal product.
At this point, many dispensaries are ready to be up and running, as well as selling product, but they are still waiting on testing and final inspection. It seems as though things are going to be delayed until final testing is actually an option.
“We were very clear that dispensaries wouldn’t be open to buy it, retail wise, until this year until mid year. Many may not have understood that,” said Lyndall Fraker, state director for the DHSS section for Medical Marijuana. “We know it’s going to get very busy.”
Four dispensaries have been approved so far in the state, as they have passed final inspection, but they are only able to sell products like CBD oil until medical cannabis can actually be properly tested. At this time, three of the 60 cultivators who were awarded licenses have been approved to begin growing, and a crop normally takes 90 days, so there is quite a lag in getting cannabis to suppliers.
“We’re going to run out of product immediately if a big facility like this doesn’t get up and running, so we are kind of the tip of the sword,” Mueller said.
The hope is to have a testing facility up and operational by the end of September, but it’s not clear if that will happen, and even then, there will only be one facility to test cannabis. Missouri must catch up on the testing front before the medical cannabis industry will become viable.