The number of Missourians granted medical marijuana patient cards has more than doubled from last year, but with ongoing delays because of factors such as COVID-19, many are left wondering when dispensaries will be open with products readily available.
There have been 57,354 cards approved to patients since the start of the medical marijuana program, which was approved by voters in November 2018, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. A consulting firm used by the state had estimated there would be close to 50,000 patients after the first year of the program and close to 150,000 patients by the third year, said Lyndall Fraker, director of the department’s Section for Medical Marijuana Regulation.
“They all told us that we should expect a 2% to 3% adoption rate of your state’s population, which (in) Missouri is 6.1 million,” Fraker said. “This means we would have somewhere between 120,000 and 180,000 patients after three years. We really built our program around that.”
Meanwhile, cultivators expect to have their first crops ready by the end of September, which means dispensaries could be open and selling other items but won’t have flower products readily available until after the summer, Fraker said. And businesses in the medical marijuana industry — including planned dispensaries in Joplin, Neosho and Carthage — are eager to get off the ground.
An official with Flora Farms predicts that once dispensaries finally open their doors, there may not be enough products to meet the surge in demand. Flora Farms was awarded licenses for dispensaries in Neosho, Springfield and Humansville as well as a three-license cultivation facility in Humansville.
“If our calculations are correct, there won’t be enough product to go around in the early days of the program,” Mark Hendren, chief operation officer