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Springfield, MO

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2019 Year in Review No. 1: Medical marijuana industry takes shape

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SPRINGFIELD–Local and national interest in Missouri’s burgeoning medical marijuana industry blazed through state expectations this year.

Medical marijuana hopefuls filed 2,163 applications in August to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services for dispensary, cultivation, testing, transportation and infused-product manufacturing licenses. Nearly 100 of those entrepreneurs took a gamble on the developing industry in the Queen City.

And interest from consumers continues to climb. As of Dec. 11, the state had received 25,878 medical marijuana patient card applications and 23,920 were approved – a process that began June 28. The state previously estimated reaching 22,500 qualified patients by the end of 2021.

Even out-of-state entrepreneurs from have their eyes set on Missouri, with many business applications submitted from Montana, Oklahoma, Colorado and California businesses.

The state is only expected to award 348 licenses, establishing 24 dispensaries in each congressional district and 60 cultivators, 86 manufacturers and 10 testing facilities statewide. Announcements were slated to begin Dec. 19 and continue through the end of January 2020. Additionally, 10 testing licenses will be awarded statewide. These business licenses are expected to generate over 6,000 jobs in Missouri.

Local entrepreneurs include Jamie Tillman of CBD operator Canna Bliss LLC, Desmond Morris of The Wholesome Bud Co. and former NFL player Grant Wistrom and his Revival 98 LLC.

Since applications were due Aug. 19, it’s been a waiting game for the hopeful entrepreneurs. There also are several uncertainties as the state tries to grasp the lucrative industry.

Banking, for example, has been a headache for potential medical marijuana business owners. They won’t be able to use Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.-insured banks because it’s federally illegal for a bank to do business with a company that sells a Schedule I drug. There could be regulatory relief soon, as the U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation that would regulate the relationships between banks and marijuana-related businesses. For now, the few banks that decide to work with marijuana-related businesses will be able to name their price.

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