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People may associate marijuana legalization with the U.S. coasts, but it’s proven wildly popular in the middle of the country, as well. Oklahoma has become the new Wild West of Weed. And neighboring Missouri has already passed the $200 million sales mark for medical marijuana just a little over a year since sales began.
State government has played a role in the success. While the average time to develop and roll out a program is about 29 months in all states, Missouri was ready to go in 23. Only Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, and Utah were faster.
“Nearly every facility who was part of the initial round of licensing is now up and running and providing beneficial products and service to the patients of Missouri,” Lyndall Fraker, director of the medical marijuana regulation, said. “We are proud of the tenacity shown by both our regulatory team and all of the facility operators who were able to clear so many hurdles that COVID-19 presented during a critical time.”
A wildly popular program
A little over a year into the program, 158,169 qualified patients and 3,283 caregivers have become active in the Missouri program. The state began granting licenses and certifications two years ago this week, run through the Section for Medical Marijuana Regulation in the state Department of Health and Senior Services.
Sales began in 2020. Currently, more than 300 facilities operate in Missouri. They include dispensaries, manufacturers, transportation companies, testing laboratories, and seed-to-sale operations.
In November, medical marijuana sales increased 7.3 percent to about $26 million, marking the seventh month in a row of sales growth.
That success mirrors what is happening in Oklahoma, a state that now has more medical marijuana patients per capita than any state in the nation.
Recreational cannabis legalization is on the horizon
Given the popularity of medical marijuana, there’s an ongoing movement to get adult-use cannabis before voters on a ballot referendum in the mid-term elections in November 2022.
Legal Missouri 2022 is leading the effort. The campaign manager for the organization, John Payne, also worked on the 2018 effort to legalize medical marijuana. State voters approved that measure with 66 percent of the vote.
The group needs to get 170,000 signatures from voters in six of the state’s eight congressional districts. Payne told St. Louis Public Radio that the success of the 2018 vote and the continued legalization of adult-use marijuana around the country leads him to believe the 2022 campaign has a good chance of success.
“We believe we have the support now to pass the adult use of marijuana in Missouri,” Payne said.