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No. 4: Industry begins to bud for medical marijuana

2020 Business Year in Review

Posted online

A year that began with medical marijuana applicants learning their licensing fate to do business in Missouri ended with a relatively small number of them in operation.

Of over 2,100 applications filed with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the state authorized 60 cultivation facilities, 193 dispensaries, 86 marijuana-infused manufacturing facilities and 11 testing laboratories, along with transportation and seed-to-sale licenses.

Nearly 370 active licensed or certified facilities require a state inspection. As of mid-December, 79 facilities had requested one. Of those, 33 were approved to operate and 46 were in progress, according to DHSS data.

Earlier, hundreds of appeals stacked up against the state, as those denied licenses criticized perceived scoring inconsistencies.

The scoring process was contracted to a third-party company designed to avoid conflicts of interest and favoritism. DHSS officials said there were originally 853 appeals filed, with rulings expected to stretch into 2021.

The first Springfield dispensary to launch was Old Route 66 Wellness LLC, which opened Nov. 3. However, its ownership cited product shortages for the shop only being open six days of its first month in business. Officials with several other local businesses say they expect to open soon, including Easy Mountain Cannabis Co., Shango and Heartland Labs.

DHSS had set a deadline of late January for most licensed cannabis businesses to be operational. However, state officials said a variance procedure allows extensions for licensees. Officials expect a substantial number of the requests, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2020 Missouri Business Factbook projects Missouri’s medical marijuana market will reach roughly $200 million in sales in 2021 and grow to $525 million-$650 million by 2024.

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