As Missouri’s medical marijuana program continues to expand, the number of patients continues to grow as well.
Missouri Medical Marijuana Patients
Missouri first opened up applications to medical marijuana patients in June of 2019, and that number has now ballooned up to 44,097, despite a year of pandemic-ridden mayhem. For the past five months, Missouri has seen a high participation rate in its medical marijuana patient certification process, with no fewer than 4,400 patients per becoming certified each month. This steadily climbing number ensures the value for marijuana business owners in Missouri, as the more participating patients there are, the more product they are likely to sell.
While the patient certification count exceeded many people’s expectations, it was lower than others had predicted. This can be partially attributed to increased difficulty of seeing an in-person physician when the reality of life with COVID-19 took hold. Though some patients voiced frustration that their cards were practically worthless until they could purchase product from a licensed dispensary, Missouri’s medical marijuana program does allow for home cultivation of medical cannabis with state approval.
One of Missouri’s first dispensaries opened in October of 2020, though this was far later than many had initially predicted. Though COVID-19 delays slowed down the rollout of Missouri’s cannabis businesses, it did not stop patients becoming certified, due to Missouri’s allowance of virtual certification appointments. As dispensary operators continue to open across the state, it is likely that there will be increased efforts to get the word out to non-participants, and we will likely see an even greater rate of patient certification in the months to come.
Industry-Wide Setbacks in the Era of COVID-19
Another major setback that Missouri’s cannabis industry had to grapple with was the derailing of the Missourians For a New Approach campaign, which would have legalized marijuana for adult-use in the state. Those efforts were disbanded when the coronavirus halted the highly-active signature collection process.
In addition to campaigning difficulties, licensed cannabis businesses across the state faced a variety of setbacks, including construction delays, new safety regulations, and buildout snags that were caused by an inability to receive international shipments of raw materials. However, the most determined teams pushed through, and there is likely to be a wave of grand openings over the course of this spring and summer.
It’s safe to say that industry leaders are coming to terms with the new way of doing business. Because Missouri allows for drive-through windows and delivery of medical marijuana products, dispensaries are able to afford their patients a variety of safe transaction environments that some prefer over in-store shopping. Despite the devastating consequences of the pandemic, Missouri’s extensive protocols regulating cannabis businesses have demonstrated that this is an industry that can operate even in the midst of catastrophe.
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