Medical Marijuana | St. Louis Public Radio

Medical 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

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. 

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. 

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

On the latest episode of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s Julie O’Donoghue, Jason Rosenbaum and Jaclyn Driscoll review some of the week’s biggest stories in state and local politics.

One of the big topics on the show is the first meeting of the Board of Freeholders, which can propose consolidating services in St. Louis and St. Louis County — or even combining city and county governments.

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.

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.

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. 

Legal medical marijuana
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Some members of the St. Louis County Council want a 1,000-foot buffer between medical marijuana dispensaries and schools, churches and day care centers.

A constitutional amendment that voters approved last year spells out parameters for facilities that grow, manufacture, test and sell medical marijuana. Included is language that allows local governments to place a 1,000-foot buffer zone between those places. But the planning commission is recommending a 500-foot buffer in unincorporated areas of the county.

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. 

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

Efforts to ask St. Louis residents to weigh in again on reducing the number of city aldermen by 2023 are on hold.

The decision made Friday to delay any action on legislation forcing another referendum acknowledges the difficulty supporters will have in getting the 20 votes needed to override a promised mayoral veto.

Dr. Mimi Vo (at left) and Rolla City Councilman Daniel Jones talked about the benefits of medical marijuana and what the application process like  for medical marijuana ID cards on Tuesday's "St. Louis on the Air."
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio | Courtesy of Daniel Jones

June 4 marked the first day Missouri posted application forms for patients who want medical marijuana ID cards, which is unprecedented in the state’s history. The application forms are also for would-be marijuana businesses — dispensaries, growers and others. Patients may file the applications beginning July 4, and businesses Aug. 3.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jonathan Ahl discussed what the legalization of medical marijuana means for Missouri and the process of how physicians prescribe it as dispensaries start opening up.

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.

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.

St. Louis Alderman Jack Coatar
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Alderman Jack Coatar joins St. Louis Public Radio’s Rachel Lippmann and Jason Rosenbaum in talking about what to expect in the next few months at the St. Louis Board of Aldermen.

Coatar represents the city’s 7th Ward, which includes neighborhoods like downtown St. Louis, Soulard, Lafayette Square and Compton Heights. He was elected to a full term on the board in 2017 after winning a 2015 special election.

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

When Missouri’s medical marijuana program is fully underway, there may be more of the drug produced than consumed. That’s according to researchers at the University of Missouri, who provided the state with an economic analysis of the program Monday.

Legal medical marijuana
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri legislators gave first-round approval Wednesday to a bill that would allow medical marijuana patients to expunge pot-related offenses from their records.

It’s an outgrowth of a voter-approved decision in November legalizing marijuana for medicinal use.

As Missouri moves toward implementing the voter-approved medical marijuana program, state officials on Wednesday warned potential patients to hold off on paying for a physician certification until June.

Cannabis plants grow under orange sodium lights in a medical marijuana cultivation facility in Oakland, California. Missouri has begun accepting application fees for potential license-holders of such facilities.
Rusty Blazenhoff | Flickr

Missouri’s health department has already fielded more than 400 pre-applications from potential marijuana growers and sellers.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, which will administer the state’s medical marijuana program, won’t begin accepting formal applications for dispensaries, cultivation facilities and manufacturing plants until summer.

That hasn’t stopped potential businesses from paying more than $3 million in application fees to the state.

Legal medical marijuana
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s going to be awhile before medical marijuana will be available to Missouri patients.

The timetable imposed by Amendment 2 – which Missouri voters overwhelmingly backed in November – will likely give the state close to a year before pot in its various forms will be legally available for patients.

Dr. Patricia Hurford, a Kirkwood-based physician, is optimistic that the wait will be worth it. She also practices in Illinois, which has had a medical-marijuana program in place for several years.

A week after voters approved a measure to legalize medical marijuana in Missouri, the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office announced today that it will stop processing some marijuana possession cases.

Amendment 2, which legalizes medical marijuana with a 4 percent sales tax for veterans programs and job training, passed with 66 percent approval from Missouri voters and even more support from those in Jackson County. Two other medical marijuana proposals were on the state ballot but failed.

When American doctors enter the field of medicine, most take an oath to put the patient’s health as a top priority.

Benjamin Singer, communications director for Clean Missouri, announces victory in the contest to pass Amendment 1 to supporters at Flamingo Bowl in St. Louis.
File photo I Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri voters approved a sweeping overhaul of state legislative redistricting, raising the minimum wage and legalizing medical marijuana, but rejected a gas tax increase.

Of all of the initiative petitions on Tuesday’s ballot, the most contentious was Clean Missouri — on the ballot as Amendment 1. Voters approved it by a wide margin — 59-40, with close to 60 percent of the votes reported — a result propelled by a well-organized and well-funded campaign. Passage is a huge victory for Democratic activists seeking to advance their party’s state House and Senate prospects after the next census.

Legal medical marijuana
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Marie DeBor of Webster Groves is front and center in the longstanding debate in Missouri over medical marijuana.  

DeBor, who has multiple sclerosis, is hoping that the drug changes her life.

“I have tried it in legal recreational states and have had benefits,” said DeBor. “My friends with MS in other states tell me how beneficial it is to them.”

(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.

Colorful photographs hang in the lobby at HCI Alternatives, a dispensary in Collinsville. (June 14, 2017)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies delve into the three medical marijuana initiatives.

Missourians will vote on Amendment 2, Amendment 3 and Proposition C. All three initiatives would make it legal to get marijuana for medical use. But they differ greatly in terms of how much marijuana will be taxed, how the regulatory framework would work, and where the money would go. Missouri state law says that if there are two conflicting constitutional amendments, the measure with the “largest affirmative vote” will prevail.

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