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Missouri’s Medical Marijuana Program Sees 67K Eager Customers Wanting More

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File photo / David Kovaluk
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Cannabis plant seedlings grow at BeLeaf Co. in Earth City, Missouri, in June.

Missouri’s fledgling medical marijuana program has approved nearly 70,000 patient and caregiver applications — so many, there is not yet enough legal cannabis in the state to serve them all. And for some patients, the prices seem pretty high.

But people working in the industry say patience is necessary. The seeds of the solution to both problems are already in the ground.

“Part of the challenge is, if you only have a dispensary license, you can open, but you’re waiting for companies like ourselves or others, to get their cultivation or manufacturing license open, to be able to provide you product,” said Mitch Meyers, CEO of BeLeaf Medical Co. For Meyers’ company, that’s less of a problem; it's licensed to both grow and sell. “We are very fortunate to have a vertically integrated license.”

The first officially sanctioned sale in the state took place two months ago. Now a total of 17 dispensaries are open statewide, with licensed shops in Ellisville, St. Peters, Manchester and Washington, along with other locations outside the St. Louis metro area.

Both Meyers and Jack Cardetti, spokesperson for the Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association, said on St. Louis on the Air that things are looking up. Cardetti said that soon there will be 192 dispensaries across the state.

“To put that into perspective, over in Metro East Illinois, there are only [three] dispensaries over there. The St. Louis area — the St. Louis region in general, on the Missouri side — is going to have two to three dozen dispensaries, so patients aren’t going to have to go halfway across the state to get their medicine,” Cardetti said.

Cardetti added that he’s been impressed by how quickly the process has moved in Missouri. Of all the states only licensing cannabis for medical uses, Missouri is second to Oklahoma in terms of how fast the program was implemented.

“Just last week, the first infused product manufacturer got approved to start operating,” Cardetti said. “When someone walks into a dispensary right now, they’re mostly going to have flower to choose from. But in the coming weeks and months, they’ll be able to have the full assortment — edibles, tinctures, vapors and all of those.”

Meyers noted it takes months to go from seed to the fully flowered plant one needs for medicinal purposes.

“It does take about 3½ months, depending on the strain, to grow the plant,” Meyers said. “Then you have to harvest it, dry it, and some of us cure that plant for a little bit longer period of time before you can trim it, package it, test it, and then put it into the marketplace.”

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Emily is the senior producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

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