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Recreational Pot Presents Opportunities for Missouri’s Medical Cannabis Biz

Missouri’s voters will soon decide whether to legalize recreational cannabis in Missouri. The outcome is expected in just two weeks. Some established businesses in medical marijuana are eagerly awaiting expansion.

The St. Louis Business Journal has a report out this week on the ballot proposal, known as Amendment 3, which is “projected to create a significantly larger market for the companies that have already emerged as major players in the state’s legal medical marijuana market.”

The outlet highlighted “Proper Cannabis, a St. Louis-based medical dispensary that opened a $20 million facility in Rock Hill last year, operates three dispensaries in the St. Louis region,” which has recently expanded “its existing facility by 25,000 to 30,000 square feet in preparation for a drastic increase in demand.”

“It’s both exciting and needed,” Proper Cannabis CEO John Pennington told the Business Journal. “What you have in Missouri is two to three times the number of people who are likely already consuming, who will now have safe, compliant and enjoyable places to shop with reliable quality products and medicine.” 

Missouri’s medical cannabis industry opened in 2020, after the state passed legislation legalizing it in 2018. 

One year ago, after legalization of medical marijuana, the state revealed that there were more than 140 cannabis dispensaries in the area and about 5,000 workers.

The St. Louis Business Journal also reported on “BeLeaf Medical, an Earth City-based medical cannabis firm, made a notable change as it prepares for the possibility of a market expansion into recreational cannabis.”

According to this outlet, Jason Nelson has been appointed the company’s new CEO. Nelson “joined the company three and a half months ago from Chicago-based Cresco Labs, where he was the cannabis firm’s senior vice president of horticulture,” and where he “helped the company expand into 10 states, including five that made the transition from medical to recreational sales.”

Amendment 3 was officially approved for the Missouri ballot by Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft in August. He stated that Legal Missouri 2022 had received sufficient signatures to qualify the group behind it.

“Our statewide coalition of activists, business owners, medical marijuana patients and criminal justice reform advocates has worked tirelessly to reach this point, and deserves all the credit,” Legal Missouri campaign manager John Payne said in a statement at the time. “Our campaign volunteers collected 100,000 signatures, on top of paid signature collection. The outpouring support from Missourians for legalizing, taxing and regulating cannabis was a huge factor in the success of this campaign. In the weeks and months ahead, we look forward to engaging in conversation with the voters throughout the state. Missourians are more than ready to end the senseless and costly prohibition of marijuana.”

If it is approved by voters, Amendment 3 will allow “Missourians 21 years and older to possess, purchase, consume and cultivate marijuana,” and “Missourians with nonviolent marijuana-related offenses to automatically expunge their criminal records.”

This initiative will also establish a legal cannabis market, which would levie a 6 percent tax on marijuana sales.

“Beyond covering administrative expenses and the costs to process automatic expungements, any remaining surplus will be split equally between veterans’ healthcare, drug addiction treatment, and Missouri’s underfunded public defender system,” Legal Missouri explains on its website.

It would also allow Missouri local governments to levy sales taxes up to 3 percent. According to the group, state officials “project additional annual revenue of at least $40.8 million and additional local government revenues of at least $13.8 million.”

The amendment’s prospects are difficult to gauge, with polling on the proposal all over the map.