Cannabis | St. Louis Public Radio

Cannabis

The Green Solution in Sauget will now be able to sell marijuana to recreational users. The dispensary has not said when it will start recreational sales.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

SAUGET — There are now two places in the Metro East where people can legally purchase recreational marijuana.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation awarded the Green Solution in Sauget a “same-site” license Wednesday, which allows the dispensary to open its doors to recreational users in addition to the medical marijuana patients it already serves. The department also awarded a license for a recreational-only site in Quincy.  

Officials from the Green Solution did not respond to requests for comment before our deadline.

People line up at Illinois Supply and Provisions in Collinsville on Jan. 2, 2020 to purchase recreational cannabis products.
Lexi Cortes | Belleville News-Democrat

The biggest party in town on New Year’s Day may well have been outside Illinois Supply & Provisions. Metro area residents stood in line for hours outside the Collinsville shop with the goal of purchasing legal marijuana products. Illinois just became the 11th state to legalize cannabis for recreational use. 

St. Louis Public Radio reporter Eric Schmid was at the shop on New Year's Day, and on Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, he joined host Sarah Fenske to discuss what people should know about buying and consuming Illinois’ recreational marijuana in 2020 and beyond.

Legal Marijuana Sales Start In Collinsville And Across Illinois

Jan 1, 2020
Long lines at the Collinsville dispensary greeted the first day of legal recreational marijuana sales in Illinois.
Belleville News-Democrat

COLLINSVILLE — The first day of 2020 has been highly anticipated for many — from baby boomers who remember smoking pot before the government declared the drug wasn’t safe to Medicaid patients who have waited to use cannabis for pain management in place of pills.

It is the first time anyone 21 years old or older can legally buy marijuana in Illinois, the 11th state to legalize weed for people other than medical cannabis patients.

Cannabis flower grows at a recreational grow facility in Illinois. Sales of recreational marijuana started Illinois Jan 1.
Eric Schmid | St. Louis Public Radio

COLLINSVILLE — Legal recreational cannabis in Illinois goes on sale on Jan. 1, with at least one dispensary in the Metro East set to offer the product to both medical patients and recreational users.

Here are a few things you should know about buying and consuming Illinois’ recreational marijuana in 2020 and beyond.

Cannabis plants grow inside Ascend Illinois indoor facility in Barry, IL. Ascend owns two existing medical dispensaries and plans to open two additional recreational dispensaries early next year.
File Photo | Eric Schmid | St Louis Public Radio

BELLEVILLE — Supplies of recreational marijuana in Illinois will likely be tight when the drug is fully legalized on Jan 1. A group of state lawmakers wrote a joint letter this month expressing their concerns.

“Each state that has implemented an adult-use cannabis program has had issues related to supply shortages,” wrote the group, including state Sens. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, and Laura Fine, D-Glenview, and state Reps. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago; Bob Morgan, D-Highwood; Jehan Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria; Celina Villanueva, D-Chicago, and David Welter, R-Morris.

Cannabis flower grows at a recreational grow facility in Illinois. Sales of recreational marijuana started Illinois Jan 1.
Eric Schmid | St. Louis Public Radio

Employers in Missouri may face many of the same challenges surrounding legal recreational marijuana as their Illinois counterparts.

Possession and consumption of the drug without a medical card will still be illegal in Missouri in the new year. But there’s nothing limiting residents from crossing the Mississippi River and consuming marijuana legally in Illinois as of Jan. 1. 

Belleville Clears Way For Pot Sales, But No Companies Have Applied To Open A Dispensary

Dec 23, 2019
Cannabis flower grows at a recreational grow facility in Illinois. Sales of recreational marijuana started Illinois Jan 1.
Eric Schmid | St. Louis Public Radio

BELLEVILLE — Officials here don’t have a proposal from a company that wants to locate a recreational marijuana dispensary in the city, but aldermen have cleared the path for the zoning changes necessary to allow the sales.

If a dispensary opens in the city, it must be in either a commercial or industry zoning district, according to changes unanimously approved by the City Council on Thursday. 

Lawyer Benjamin Wesselschmidt explains the new recreational cannabis law at the St. Clair County Country Club on Nov. 21. Many employers are re-thinking their drug testing policies since recreational marijuana will be legal on Jan. 1, 2020.
Eric Schmid | St Louis Public Radio

BELLEVILLE — Ahead of the new year, local businesses and employers across Illinois are trying to determine how legal recreational marijuana will impact them. 

The law change, which came only six months ago, is forcing many employers to rethink how their workplaces handle drug policy and testing.

Cannabis flower grows at a recreational grow facility in Illinois. Sales of recreational marijuana started Illinois Jan 1.
Eric Schmid | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s medical marijuana program awarded the first group of facility licenses on Thursday. Ten testing locations received approval to begin preparing for final state inspections before operations begin this spring. 

Testing facilities are responsible for testing all of the cannabis in the state. They will test the levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive component found in the drug. 

Facilities will also ensure there are no foreign substances or bacteria present. 

Fairview Heights Mayor Mark Kupsky adresses the council on Dec. 17, before they vote to allow cannabis sales in the community. The council voted 7-3 to allow cannabis related businesses to open in the community.
Eric Schmid | St Louis Public Radio

FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS — The city council voted 7-3 Tuesday night to allow cannabis-related businesses to come to the city. Aldermen made the decision quickly with almost no debate on the issue.

Fairview Heights joins five other Metro East communities that will allow cannabis sales next year when recreational marijuana use for adults is legal.

Cannabis plants grow inside Ascend Illinois indoor facility in Barry, IL. Ascend owns two existing medical dispensaries and plans to open two additional recreational dispensaries early next year.
File Photo | Eric Schmid | St Louis Public Radio

Updated at 8:15 p.m., Dec. 17:

By a vote of 7-3, the Fairview Heights City Council voted to allow and tax recreational cannabis sales in the city.

Original story from 8:30 a.m., Dec. 17:

FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS — The city council will decide if it wants to allow and tax recreational cannabis sales in the community at its meeting on Tuesday night. 

Fairview Heights finds itself facing a decision similar to the one other Metro East communities did after Illinois state legislators voted to allow recreational marijuana use for people 21 and older starting Jan. 1.

As medical marijuana sales start in Missouri in 2020, local companies see potential new clients in the companies that are recieving the medical program's first licenses.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Local companies see business opportunities as medical cannabis sales begin in Missouri in 2020. They’re not the companies that have applied for one of the initial licenses from the state but those that may offer services to those eventual license holders. 

“A lot of people focus too much on the dispensaries, cultivators and manufacturers, when there are so many other opportunities out there as well,” said Alexander Ivy, vice president and director of accounts for Peacemaker Defense Group

Collinsville Dispensary Can Sell Recreational Marijuana, City Approves New Zoning Laws

Nov 27, 2019
peter.a photography | Flickr

COLLINSVILLE — A Collinsville medical marijuana dispensary is one of the first in the state to receive a permit allowing recreational marijuana sales alongside its medical cannabis products.

The state announced Tuesday that HCI Alternatives at 1014 Eastport Plaza Drive was awarded a “same-site” adult-use cannabis license. 

The Green Solution in Sauget will now be able to sell marijuana to recreational users. The dispensary has not said when it will start recreational sales.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Illinois becomes the 11th state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana on Jan. 1, six years after Colorado started to allow recreational sales. The cannabis industry grew rapidly in that time, and so did claims about the plant’s properties and effects.

Joseph DiVerdi doesn’t believe those assertions. He should know. DiVerdi is a cannabis researcher and chemistry professor at Colorado State University.

“The hype totally outstripes knowledge,” he said. “The lack of hard data has permitted opinion to run wild and rampant. There are so many things attributed to the cannabis plant that are far beyond what might be considered reasonable.” 

The Green Solution in Sauget will now be able to sell marijuana to recreational users. The dispensary has not said when it will start recreational sales.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

EDWARDSVILLE — Metro East cities that want to allow cannabis-related businesses are starting to decide where these establishments can set up shop in their communities.

The Edwardsville City Council made its decision Tuesday night when it voted 7-0 to establish new zoning rules and other restrictions for cannabis businesses that may come to the city. 

Recreational marijuana facility in San Francisco, California in Nov. 2018
File photo | Jaclyn Driscoll | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri has already approved more than 17,000 patients for its yet-to-be-launched medical marijuana program — a stark contrast to neighboring Illinois, which had fewer than 3,000 patients in the first 10 months. 

Licenses for Missouri’s dispensaries are expected to be awarded by January, and cannabis should be available for medical card holders by spring. 

At their core, Missouri and Illinois programs do the same thing: They allow doctors to certify patients to use cannabis if they have a qualifying condition. But there are significant differences in the details of each law, including who has access, how they’re getting access and how the programs can be changed in the future.

An airforce member recieves instructions on a drug test. After January 1st, Illinois employers cannot simply rely on a drug test to ensure drug free work environments.
Ashley Gardner | Shaw Air Force Base

BELLEVILLE — Recreational cannabis will be legal in Illinois in less than two months, and some employers are scrambling to understand what legalization will mean for their drug-free policies. 

Specifically, the new law pits an employee’s right to use marijuana recreationally on their own time against an employer’s ability to enforce drug-free policies under Illinois’ Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act

Legal Marijuana Is Coming To Illinois, But What Will Happen If You Bring It To Missouri?

Nov 3, 2019
The Green Solution in Sauget will now be able to sell marijuana to recreational users. The dispensary has not said when it will start recreational sales.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

While people who are at least 21 will be able to purchase recreational marijuana legally starting on Jan. 1 in Illinois, it doesn’t mean they’ll be able to bring the cannabis into Missouri.

However with such ease of travel between the Missouri and Illinois, with multiple bridges connecting the two states in the St. Louis-area, someone is bound to bring legally purchased weed from the Land of Lincoln to the Show Me State.

The Green Solution in Sauget will now be able to sell marijuana to recreational users. The dispensary has not said when it will start recreational sales.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration acknowledges that the war on cannabis disproportionately affects low-income communities of color. 

State officials are now taking steps to ensure those who’ve been negatively impacted have a leg up when Illinois legalizes adult-use cannabis in 2020.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity released a map earlier this week highlighting the parts of the state hardest hit by the criminalization of cannabis. 

Here’s How Much St. Clair County Plans To Tax For Recreational Cannabis Sales

Sep 17, 2019
The Green Solution in Sauget will now be able to sell marijuana to recreational users. The dispensary has not said when it will start recreational sales.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

With recreational cannabis sales set to become legal in Illinois in 2020, St. Clair County officials are setting tax rates and eyeing where the new revenue might go.

The board voted to set tax rates on recreational sales at a special meeting of the county board Monday night with all attending board members voting in favor of the ordinance.

Under the new ordinance, sales can be taxed up to 3.75% in 0.25% increments for sales in unincorporated areas of St. Clair County and up to 3% in 0.25% increments in county municipalities.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has awarded licenses to 192 medical marijuana dispensaries in the state.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

With the deadline to submit an application for a medical marijuana business closed, more than 2,100 were received, bringing in more than $5.3 million in fees, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. 

On Thursday, the department announced it would extend the deadline to 4:30 p.m. Monday. Initially the cutoff was midnight Saturday, but with a slow start early in the application period, the department expected an influx toward the end. 

DHSS begins accepting medical marijuana applications
Jaclyn Driscoll | St. Louis Public Radio

After taking in $4.2 million in early application fees, Missouri’s medical marijuana program is off to a slow start since it began accepting full applications on Saturday.

Roughly 600 applicants chose to pay their required fees in advance, but so far only 27 full applications have been submitted. The application process is extensive, and the deadline isn’t until Aug. 17. Still, Lyndall Fraker, the director of the state’s medical marijuana program, said he was surprised by the low numbers. 

Members of the REAL Cannabis Co. ownership team (from left) Justin Gage, Cheryl Watkins-Moore and Derek Mays stand in what they hope will be their flagship medical marijuana dispensary. They are one of few minority-owned businesses seeking a license. 7/29
Corinne Ruff | St. Louis Public Radio

Cheryl Watkins-Moore has a vision.

Even though the building she’s standing in is empty, she points to spots where she can see a trendy coffee bar beneath a vaulted ceiling, retail shopping in the window front ⁠— and a medical marijuana dispensary in the back.

“People can come into the dispensary, take care of what they need to take care of and then be able to go on about their business,” said Watkins-Moore, the chief strategy and marketing officer of REAL Cannabis Co.

Hemp And The Challenges Of Farming’s Frontier

Jul 10, 2019

There’s millions of dollars to be made from growing hemp, which for years was lumped in and vilified with its sister plant, marijuana. With the government loosening laws around growing hemp for the first time in more than 80 years, some states are charging ahead and letting farmers plant it — even before federal regulations are in place. 

Those states aren’t just getting a head start, though. They’re seeing significant challenges that hemp farmers will face for years to come, things like seed fraud, weather and a lack of machinery.

Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

Phelps County Prosecutor Brendon Fox filed a petition in court this week to remove Daniel Jones from the Rolla City Council. 

He cited Jones’ 2012 guilty plea to a felony charge of cannabis possession as a violation of state law that prohibits convicted felons from holding public office. 

Harris-Stowe biology professor Sandra Leal demonstrates how to make fruit fly food infused with CBD oil on June 25, 2019.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

Anaejal Davies reaches into a jar of wriggling fruit fly larvae and grasps one with a pair of tweezers.

“You have to be really delicate,” said Davies, positioning the larva under a microscope. “Even the slightest pinch, you could puncture them and they can die.”

The Harris-Stowe State University sophomore is one of a handful of biology students studying how CBD, a compound derived from cannabis plants, affects fruit flies. Most of the students had never worked in a research lab before taking the class and are learning the process from the ground up — while investigating cutting-edge scientific questions.

HCI Alternatives in Collinsville is one of 53 medical cannabis dispensaries licensed by the State of Illinois
File Photo | Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

While the state will license medical marijuana dispensary facilities, it’s up to cities to set the rules on where they can locate in their towns.

The amendment voters approved last fall to legalize medical marijuana has some provisions regulating the location of dispensaries, labs, cultivation centers and testing facilities. That includes a minimum of 1,000 feet from schools, day cares and places of worship.

peter.a photography | Flickr

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said it will distribute 338 licenses to grow and sell medical marijuana. The number is far less than the 510 hopefuls who have already paid application fees with hopes of receiving a license.

These licenses are for different aspects of the medical marijuana pipeline: 60 to cultivate marijuana, 192 to dispense and 86 to manufacture marijuana-infused products.

Even though the number of licenses to be issued is the minimum of what the law allows, a report from University of Missouri economists indicates that might be too much based on demand in other states with similar laws.

Since February, patients in Illinois have been able to swap their opioid prescriptions for marijuana. And many are doing just that.

Illinois has been mulling over the idea of legalizing recreational cannabis for years. While some proponents tout it as a social justice issue, others focus on the additional revenue it could bring in for the cash-strapped state.

Pages