A strain of marijuana called Power Plant is photographed on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, at the University City home of a grower who is cultivating in his basement legally for personal use. Photo by Christian Gooden, email@example.com
Christian Gooden Jack Suntrup
JEFFERSON CITY — While scores of would-be entrepreneurs sit out, barred from participating in Missouri’s medical marijuana program, a select number of cannabis businesses are racing to cash in on the state’s newest industry.
The Department of Health and Senior Services, as of Friday, had cleared 17 dispensaries to open their doors, as well as 11 cultivators and one manufacturer of cannabis-infused products. Not all of the approved businesses — including the lone manufacturer — have started selling product.
Those lucky winners, critics say, are beneficiaries of arbitrary caps on number of licenses and a flawed scoring process, which have reduced the availability of medical cannabis and limited competition.
Joseph Bednar, attorney for the Sarcoxie Nursery Cultivation Center, a losing applicant suing the state to overturn Missouri’s licensing caps, said the limits harm patient access to medical cannabis, in violation of the constitutional amendment that instituted the state’s program.
He said the state’s system has caused more weed scarcity, and limits where it is sold, increasing costs for consumers, some of whom might have to travel long distances to purchase medical marijuana.
“The more expensive the medicine is, the fewer patients that can afford the medicine,” Bednar said. “You have both a geographic issue of access and an economic issue of access.”
Bednar and attorneys for the state made their cases at trial in late October before Cole County Circuit Judge Patricia Joyce. She has not