Medical Marijuana | St. Louis Public Radio

Medical Marijuana

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. 

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

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services began awarding the 192 state medical marijuana dispensary licenses on Thursday. 

According to the constitutional amendment that voters approved in 2018, the department was required to license at least 192 dispensaries, 24 in each of Missouri’s eight congressional districts. This means DHSS could have awarded more licenses, but officials want to see if the minimum number can meet demand. 

Mondays Are For Medical: Collinsville Dispensary Cuts Back On Recreational Sales

Jan 15, 2020
A long line formed early New Year's Day at Illinois Supply & Provisions in Collinsville, the only legal place to purchase recreational marijuana in the St. Louis region. The company has announced that only medical marijuana will be sold on Mondays.
Derik Holtmann | Belleville News-Democrat

The Metro East’s sole recreational cannabis dispensary has announced it will only sell products to medical marijuana customers on Mondays.

Starting Monday, Jan. 20, Illinois Supply & Provisions will only sell cannabis to medical marijuana customers on Mondays for the remainder of 2020 in an effort to better serve its medical customer base and help preserve its inventory.

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 Jan. 15 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?

Dr. Mai Vo (left) and Dr. Mimi Vo (right) are physicians with different takes on Missouri's new medical cannabis law. They are also sisters.
EMILY WOODBURY | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

Thousands of Missouri residents have received certification cards for medical marijuana, and dispensaries are gearing up to begin sales of the product later this year, likely in the spring. 

Physicians have the ability to prescribe medical marijuana to patients via the state’s certification form, although they are not obligated to do so.

On Friday's St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske spoke with two physicians, who are also sisters, to get a sense of why they react differently when patients request their signatures on medical marijuana certification forms.

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

Robbie Guard sees a green opportunity in Missouri’s newest industry — medical marijuana.

He runs the Cape Girardeau office for MRV Banks. The 13-year-old institution has just three locations along the Missouri side of the Mississippi River. 

As a relatively young bank with a small footprint, it struggles to bring in new accounts. Guard hopes the newly legal medical marijuana industry will change that. 

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. 

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

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
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.

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.

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. 

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

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.

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

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.

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