It has been a slow start for medical marijuana in Missouri. In 2018, voters approved Amendment 2, allowing doctors to prescribe medical cannabis for qualifying medical conditions.
Since then, not a whole lot has happened. 372 Missouri-based medical marijuana businesses have received licenses from the state, but only 43 have received approval to operate as of December 31 of last year. Twenty-two approvals have gone to retail medical marijuana dispensaries, while 13 approvals have been granted to cannabis cultivation centers. More than 700 potential marijuana businesses that didn’t receive licenses have active appeals.
In a bit of good news for medical marijuana patients in the state, edible marijuana products went on sale for the first time in Missouri during the first week of 2021. While production is expected to be slow until more cultivation centers and retail dispensaries are licensed, it’s still a step forward for medical cannabis in Missouri.
Another first for Missouri is the Republican state lawmaker who wants to legalize recreational marijuana.
“We spend more time and more law enforcement resources going after marijuana smokers than all the other drugs combined,” said Rep. Shamed Dogan (R). “Ten percent of the arrest in the state of Missouri right now are from marijuana possession.”
Dogan hopes legalization will bring more revenue to the state and eliminate the black market.
“I think alcohol prohibition taught us that trying to prohibit something this way, the way we’ve gone about marijuana prohibition, it backfires,” Dogan said.
Dogan plans to introduce a constitutional amendment, House Joint Resolution 30, during the 2021 legislative session. If lawmakers approve the amendment, residents could vote on legal recreational marijuana as early as 2022.
Dogan’s legislation doesn’t directly address racial inequity, but he does support clearing previous marijuana convictions.
“And it automatically lets out of prison anybody that is still serving a prison term for marijuana-only offenses and then expunges from your record if you have a non-violent marijuana offense,” Dogan said. “If you are currently incarcerated [for more than] a marijuana offense, so if you have a marijuana offense, but you also committed a robbery, you don’t get out.