Does Missouri Have Medical Cannabis?
Yes. After voters passed Amendment 2 by an overwhelming margin in November 2018., Missouri voters showed their support behind MO Medical Marijuana, making it legal for card-carrying qualifying patients and caregivers to possess and cultivate marijuana in Missouri, with the program being administered by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS).
Missouri Medical Marijuana 2018 Results
The campaign to legalize medical weed in MIssouri, New Approach Missouri, gathered many tens of thousands of signatures for its Missouri medical marijuana petition from all across the state to get medical marijuana on the ballot in November 2018. While there were actually three competing medical marijuana initiatives on the ballot, Amendment 2 passed overwhelmingly with 67% support. Amendment 2 has since been formalized as Amendment XIV in the Missouri Constitution, enshrining medical cannabis as the law of the land in Missouri.
How Many Medical Marijuana Patients Does Missouri Have?
As of this writing, the state of Missouri has issued over 55,000 qualifying since the department began issuing cards last June. These numbers fly in the face of a market study conducted by the University of Missouri released in April 2019, before the first medical marijuana patients had begun to get certified, that severely underestimated the number of patients expected to sign up for the program. In the study, estimates reflected a much smaller demand, with figures predicting the patient count to be 26,000 by 2022. Even one of the study’s authors found the findings to be dubious. When Missouri medical marijuana advocates predicted a much higher figure for patient count, numbering as many 200,000, Joseph Haslag, an MU economics professor who co-authored the study with two other researchers, told the Kansas City Star, “I don’t know where they’re getting their stuff, but I can’t say they’re wrong.”
Missouri WeedCerts Debacle: Missouri Medical Cannabis Cards Voided
In the past few weeks, it has come to light that nearly 600 qualifying Missouri medical marijuana patients (including the author of this article) were defrauded in their process of obtaining their weed card. An organization known as WeedCerts had stolen the credentials of a Missouri doctor, thereby passing on phony qualifying patient certifications to be reviewed by the state. Neither the defrauded doctor nor patients were aware at the time that there was anything suspicious about the weed card sign-up process.
Patients who were defrauded were given notice by DHSS that an update of the physician certification would need to be submitted in order to keep their patient card valid. In response, doctors across the state began offering free physician certifications to the defrauded patients. Speaking with Greenway Magazine, Dr. Lisa Roark, who was awarded a dispensary license in Cassville in Southwest Missouri, said “For many patients, even $100 for a telehealth appointment is an undue burden. Many medical marijuana patients are low income, disabled, or veterans. They shouldn’t have to scrimp and save to pay yet another fee. That’s why we are offering to do their certifications at no cost.”
MO Medical Marijuana: Where Are We Now?
Qualifying patients and caregivers have been able to exercise their right to possess cannabis and administer their medicine since June of 2019, when the program began accepting applications and physician certifications for patients. To learn more about how to get your MO medical marijuana card, see our piece on the subject.
Applications for the licensure of medical marijuana facilities were submitted in August 2019, with over 2,000 different applications filed for the 338 licenses that would eventually be awarded in December 2019 and January 2020. As of this writing, there are two licensed cultivation facilities, Sinse from BeLeaf Medical in the St. Louis region, Archimedes in Southeast Missouri that have passed their commencement inspections and been given the green light by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to begin operations..
When Will Missouri Medical Weed Be Available to Buy?
Qualifying Missouri medical marijuana patients and caregivers have been anxious to be able to purchase weed legally in a retail setting. With the two cultivation facilities only just getting up and running, it’s expected that there will be a 90-day window before medical marijuana will be able to be harvested.
In short, medical marijuana products will likely be available to the public in a dispensary in the autumn, likely late September or early October. This rough estimation of when medical marijuana will be available in Missouri assumes that a licensed dispensary will have passed DHSS’ commencement inspection by that time. As of this writing, there have been no MO medical marijuana dispensaries cleared by DHSS to begin operations.