Marijuana | St. Louis Public Radio

Marijuana

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

Collinsville’s marijuana dispensary is offering the city some insulation from economic damage caused by the coronavirus outbreak. 

The city can depend on the sales tax revenue it collects from Illinois Supply and Provisions since cannabis sales in Illinois are not slowing down even during the coronavirus pandemic. The city currently collects a 2.25% sales tax on recreational marijuana sales, and that will jump to 5.25% on July 1.

Illinois Supply and Provisions in Collinsville sold $5 million of recreational marijuana in January. The dispensary accounted for 13.6% of sales in Illinois.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Businesses across the country are losing sales because of the coronavirus pandemic, but Illinois recreational marijuana dispensaries are not. 

The state on Monday announced consumers bought more than $37 million of recreational cannabis in April.

Illinois Supply and Provisions in Collinsville sold $5 million of recreational marijuana in January. The dispensary accounted for 13.6% of sales in Illinois.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS — The city council on Tuesday voted 8-3 to approve zoning regulations for marijuana businesses that want to come to the community.

This is the third, and final, piece of legislation the city had to pass before a dispensary would be able to open in the city. The council previously passed ordinances that allowed marijuana sales and restricted the number to just one single dispensary

Illinois Supply and Provisions in Collinsville sold $5 million of recreational marijuana in January. The dispensary accounted for 13.6% of sales in Illinois.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 3:10 p.m., Feb. 12, with comments from Collinsville's mayor

COLLINSVILLE — Illinois Supply and Provisions recorded $5 million in sales of recreational marijuana in the first month of the year, city officials announced Tuesday. 

The preliminary figures come after a strong month of sales across the whole state. Illinois sold nearly $40 million of legal marijuana in January alone. 

Orthopedic specialist Dr. Patricia Hurford was originally skeptical of cannabis' medical benefits. After she saw how it changed her patients' quality of life, she began to change her mind.
Sarah Fentem | St. Louis Public Radio

At the Green Health Docs medical marijuana certification clinic in Florissant, the walls are painted bright green, and a television show called “Munchies” plays on a loop in the waiting room. 

Marijuana is new for 68-year-old Brenda Lane, who is trying to balance on a dorm room-style saucer chair while she fills out medical forms. Lane, of St. Peters, has a packet of papers in her hand outlining many ailments, including rheumatoid arthritis, glaucoma and kidney failure. She’s in constant pain.

“That’s how I tell I’m alive,” she said. “I wake up, I’m in pain. Yep! I’m alive.”

Hundreds of people line up outside of Illinois Supply and Provisions in Collinsville on January 1, 2020 to legally buy recreational marijuana for the first time in Illinois.
Derik Holtmann | Belleville News-Democrat

COLLINSVILLE — The first month of recreational marijuana sales at Illinois Supply and Provisions brought hordes of people and their vehicles to a store that didn’t have enough parking for them. 

The dispensary reserved its 45-space parking lot for medical patients and handicapped recreational customers. A maze of metal barriers occupied the spaces directly in front of the store to contain crowds of people wanting to buy recreational cannabis. 

Mercy Hospital St. Louis
File photo | Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Medical marijuana is legal in Missouri, but some of the region’s largest hospital systems aren’t allowing their physicians to certify patients to use it. 

SSM Health will allow certifications for some patients. Mercy hospitals have announced a blanket ban on medical marijuana certification. BJC Healthcare, which includes Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, is still formulating its policy. 

“A lot of hospitals have decided, 'We’re not going to certify, because then nobody can tell us we’re doing anything wrong,'” Missouri Hospital Association General Counsel Jane Drummond said.

Fairview Heights Mayor Mark Kupsky addresses 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 nine to one on Tuesday to approve regulations for recreational marijuana businesses that want to open in the community. 

The ordinance specifies which kind of businesses can open in Fairview Heights — whether that be a dispensary, cultivator, craft grower or other facility. 

Marijuana Shortages Aren’t A Coincidence: Why Illinois Kept The Market Small On Purpose

Feb 4, 2020
A Wellness Group Pharms employee prepares pre-rolls, cones filled with a premium ground flower. The cultivation center in the rural southern Illinois town of Anna, plans to expand its cultivation facility.
Derik Holtmann | Belleville News-Democrat

Long lines, closures and shortages of product have frustrated consumers of legal weed in Illinois since the first of the year.

But state officials said the slow start to the sale of recreational marijuana was intentional and one that cultivators also wanted. Both, however, say the eventual goal is a market where supply and demand are in balance.

Have a question about legal marijuana in Illinois or medical marijuana in Missouri? Ask here, and we'll update this guide with answers as we report them out.
Eric Schmid | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Feb. 3 with more answers to reader questions —

2020 will be a year of new marijuana laws. Illinois became the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana on Jan. 1, six years after Colorado first started recreational sales. Missouri begins medical marijuana sales later in the year — likely this spring — and thousands of residents have already received certification cards.

With totally different laws in the neighboring states, there’s an understandable level of confusion among residents: Why is it easier to get medical marijuana in Missouri than in Illinois? Where can you consume cannabis products legally? How much will marijuana cost at dispensaries? And with the ease of traveling between Missouri and Illinois in the St. Louis region, what are the rules about bringing weed across state lines?

A worker trims marijuana plants in Ascend Illinois' growing facility in Barry, IL.
Eric Schmid | St. Louis Public Radio

BELLEVILLE — Illinois’ recreational cannabis industry is off to a strong start. 

Sales of recreational marijuana totaled $39.2 million in January, the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation announced Monday. 

In the 31 days after recreational marijuana became legal in the state, consumers bought almost one million individual cannabis products. Illinois residents accounted for the majority of transactions, buying $30.6 million of legal marijuana. Out-of-state residents bought $8.6 million.

What Legalization Means For People With Cannabis Convictions In Illinois

Feb 3, 2020
Illinois Supply and Provisions in Collinsville sold $5 million of recreational marijuana in January. The dispensary accounted for 13.6% of sales in Illinois.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

When he was in his early 20s, Matt purchased a pound of weed to split with his friends. The drug dealer dropped it off at his apartment in central Illinois. Moments later, he said, police stormed in and arrested Matt and his friends. He spent a night in jail and two-and-a-half years on probation, and for nearly a decade he’s lived with a felony on his record. 

Matt is now a father in his early 30s, and cannabis is a legal product under Illinois’ new legalization law. Illinois Newsroom is using Matt’s first name only to protect his family’s privacy.

Laura Smith | Flickr

With the new year come many new developments related to who can light up and what they can smoke. Recreational marijuana is now sold in cities across Illinois. Missouri dispensaries are getting ready to sell medical marijuana. More teens are vaping than ever.

And in December, the Trump administration raised the sales age for tobacco products across the U.S. To buy cigarettes in Missouri, you now have to be 21 years old. Previously, the state allowed sales to 18-year-olds. Illinois raised its age to 21 just five months before.

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

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has awarded licenses to 192 medical marijuana dispensaries throughout the state

According to the constitutional amendment voters approved in 2018, 24 dispensaries were licensed in each of Missouri’s eight congressional districts. 

The department is allowed to license more dispensaries; 192 is the minimum number. However, after an independent demand study and in an attempt “to minimize incentive for diversion to the illicit market,” DHSS declined to award more. 

Illinois Supply and Provisions in Collinsville sold $5 million of recreational marijuana in January. The dispensary accounted for 13.6% of sales in Illinois.
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.

Shoppers browse products inside a Collinsville recreational marijuana dispensary owned by Ascend Wellness Holdings. The store is at 1014 Eastport Plaza Dr.
Ascend Wellness Holdings

As dispensaries across the state keep a close eye not only on the supply of their marijuana products but also their workforce to meet the demand from recreational weed customers, they may begin looking for new “budtenders” to apply.

Some dispensaries in the state, including in Chicago and Champaign, had to close for a day this week to give their staff a break because of a shortage of state-approved employees available to handle transactions.

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.
File Photo | 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.
File Photo | 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.
File Photo | 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.
File Photo | 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 addresses 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.

More than a thousand Illinoisans with low-level marijuana convictions had their records wiped clean Wednesday. It’s part of the new marijuana legalization coming in January.

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

Illinois Supply and Provisions in Collinsville sold $5 million of recreational marijuana in January. The dispensary accounted for 13.6% of sales in Illinois.
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.” 

Illinois Supply and Provisions in Collinsville sold $5 million of recreational marijuana in January. The dispensary accounted for 13.6% of sales in Illinois.
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. 

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