Marijuana | St. Louis Public Radio

Marijuana

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

An analysis of states that decriminalized marijuana reported a steep drop in the number of related arrests and no increase in adolescent use.
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.” 

An analysis of states that decriminalized marijuana reported a steep drop in the number of related arrests and no increase in adolescent use.
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
An analysis of states that decriminalized marijuana reported a steep drop in the number of related arrests and no increase in adolescent use.
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.

An analysis of states that decriminalized marijuana reported a steep drop in the number of related arrests and no increase in adolescent use.
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
An analysis of states that decriminalized marijuana reported a steep drop in the number of related arrests and no increase in adolescent use.
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.

Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

Daniel Jones said he is right and the law is wrong.

But ultimately, he didn’t think he would win a legal battle to keep his seat on the Rolla City Council.

He resigned Thursday night, on the eve of a hearing to determine whether he could continue to hold public office.

Legal medical marijuana
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.

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. 

Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

As legal medical marijuana is on its way to Missouri, the city of Rolla is exploring decriminalizing possession of small amounts by recreational users.

The City Council recently voted 10-2 to direct city staff to research the concept and come back with proposals to make possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana punishable by a fine or eliminate prosecution altogether.

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.

With growing support among politicians and the public, Illinois could likely legalize recreational marijuana as soon as next year. But, passing legislation may hinge on where the revenue will go. 

Madigan Supports Pritzker On Taxes, Marijuana

Nov 14, 2018

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan says he expects to work “very well” with Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker and will support two of Pritzker’s major proposals.

(L-R) Mike Colona, Brad Bradshaw, Jack Cardetti and Brandon Costerison debated the pros and cons of three competing ballot measures to legalize medical marijuana.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

As part of St. Louis Public Radio's "Inform Your Vote" ballot issues forum, Jack Cardetti, Brad Bradshaw, Mike Colona, and Brandon Costerison debated the pros and cons of Amendment 2Amendment 3 and Proposition C, the three competing ballot measures to legalize medical marijuana.

The conversation aired Tuesday on St. Louis on the Air, with Cardetti speaking in favor of Amendment 2, Bradshaw in favor of Amendment 3, Colona in favor of Prop C and Costerison of NCADA in opposition to all three measures.

An analysis of states that decriminalized marijuana reported a steep drop in the number of related arrests and no increase in adolescent use.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Decriminalizing marijuana doesn’t necessarily lead to an increase in adolescent use, according to research from Washington University.

Marijuana possession is still illegal under decriminalization, but it is treated as a civil offense.

Legal medical marijuana
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri voters could have several marijuana proposals to choose from this fall, along with ballot issues that seek to increase the state’s minimum wage and change Missouri’s process for crafting legislative districts.

Backers turned in signatures for six initiative-petition proposals by Sunday’s deadline. Four of them deal with marijuana.

Two of the proposals would legalize marijuana for medical use, while two others would legalize it for recreational use as well.

The Board of Aldermen chambers on July 7, 2017.
File photo | Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Legislation that would bar, in most instances, St. Louis from expending resources to enforce marijuana laws attracted mostly positive comments from city residents at an aldermanic committee hearing Tuesday night.

But Alderwoman Megan Green’s legislation received a less favorable reception from some of her colleagues, including the chairman of the committee hearing the bill.

peter.a photography | Flickr

In a bid to boost pro-pot efforts statewide, St. Louis Alderwoman Megan Green has filed a bill to bar city police from enforcing federal or state laws against marijuana.

Green said she has at least six co-sponsors for her bill that would, in effect, allow people to use, sell and grow marijuana within the city’s borders.

peter.a_photography | Flickr

With less than six months to go, at least one proposal to legalize medicinal use of marijuana in Missouri appears to be in a strong position to get on statewide ballots next year.

New Approach Missouri says it already has collected 100,000 signatures from registered voters, and expects to have well over the necessary 165,000 by the state’s May 6 deadline for submitting initiative petitions.

Colorful photos hang on the walls at HCI Alternatives in Collinsville. The marijuana dispensary is set up like a typical doctor's office.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A small building nestled off Interstate 70 in Collinsville looks like a typical doctor’s office, until you get inside and look up close at the colorful artwork on the walls. They’re portraits of marijuana plants.

At this dispensary, about 12 miles east of the Missouri border, patients and the medical staff have lively conversations about the various medical marijuana products available, from brownies and blueberry-flavored candies to transdermal patches.

StanJourdan | Flickr

Less than two weeks after the November 2014 election, only three proposed initiative petitions for the 2016 ballot had been filed with the Missouri secretary of state’s office.

But this time, less than two weeks after the November 8 election, the 2018 floodgates are already open. As of Thursday, at least 39 proposed initiative petitions have been filed. Dave Robertson, head of the political science department at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, ties the state’s early deluge of 2018 initiatives to voter unrest, nationally as well as locally.

Dozens of cannabis clones grow under high-intensity lights at BeLeaf's growing and processing facility in Earth City, Missouri.
File photo | Joseph Leahy | St. Louis Public Radio

Efforts to legalize medical marijuana in Missouri failed to pass the state legislature last session or qualify for the ballot next week, but nine pot-related measures are up for votes in other states on Election Day.  As laws and public opinion toward the cannabis plant continue shifting nationwide, the Show Me State is taking a wait-and-see approach.

Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Missouri voters will likely decide later this year whether to amend the state’s Constitution so that the General Assembly can require that all voters show a government-issued photo ID before casting a ballot.

The state House is expected to take final action today on the ballot proposal, called SJR53, after the Senate passed it late Wednesday by a vote of 24-8.  House approval is expected.

Gov. Jay Nixon has no voice in the proposed constitutional amendment, other than deciding whether it goes on the August or November statewide ballot.

peter.a photography | Flickr

Backers of medical marijuana want Missourians to decide if doctors can be allowed to prescribe the drug to critically ill patients.

Two ballot initiatives that would do just that were filed on Thursday.

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