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Medical marijuana businesses think vertical

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Last edited 12:46 p.m., Dec. 19, 2019

Nearly 100 businesses are vying for medical marijuana production and distribution licenses in Springfield.

The local entrepreneurs are among the 2,163 applications for dispensary, cultivation or infused-product manufacturing licenses the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services received by the end of August.

In the first-time process, individuals and entities can apply for one or all of the medical marijuana business segments. Missouri DHSS Communications Director Lisa Cox said the state will grant licenses to a maximum 24 dispensaries in each congressional district and 60 cultivators and 86 infused-product manufacturers statewide.

Several local entrepreneurs are hopeful to go all in on the medical marijuana business by vertically integrating the growing, infused-product manufacturing and distributing components, according to DHSS data furnished to Springfield Business Journal.

In all, 97 applications are from individuals and entities in Springfield, the state data show.

“I knew there’d be a great number of people jumping in,” said Grant Wistrom, a former NFL player and co-owner of CrossFit Springfield.

Wistrom has applied for dispensary, cultivation and infused-product manufacturing licenses under his Revival 98 and Revival Ninety-Eight LLCs.

He’s invested roughly $200,000 so far in developing a vertically integrated business plan.

“We want to be able to control our product from seed to sale, and for it to be exactly what we want it to be, present it exactly how we want to present it,” Wistrom said of his plans to grow, manufacture and distribute medical marijuana. “Between our cultivator, our security plan and the legal team that wrote our application, I think we stand a very good chance.”

Another applicant that appears to be vertically organized is Ozark Mountain Grow Co. LLC and Ozark Mountain Extraction Co. LLC. Both LLCs are organized by William Chris Mullis, according to Missouri secretary of state records. Both LLCs are listed to have a potential location at 1867 E. Florida St. – one state application for cultivation and the other for manufacturing licenses. Owners of the related Ozark Mountain Healing LLC also applied for three dispensary locations, according to the data.

Other applicants interested in all three sectors include a team of 1140 N. Eldon Retail LLC, 1140 N. Eldon MIP LLC and 1140 N. Eldon Cultivation LLC. Also interested is a team of Astro Farms Beta LLC, Beta Fusion Extracts LLC and Fallow Retail LLC, all organized by Alex Close of Columbus, Ohio, according to SOS filings. The LLCs also plan to operate at 2452 N. Mayfair Ave. near Kearney Street and U.S. Highway 65.

Representatives with these companies did not return requests for comment.

The state is required to respond to applications within 150 days of submission, and the state’s approval process is slated to last until the end of the year. In all, the state collected over $13 million in medical marijuana application fees. The money will go toward the state’s medical marijuana program operating expenses, and Cox said any leftover funds would transfer to the Missouri Veterans’ Health and Care Fund. 

A Colorado partner
Wistrom said he’s been interested in the medical marijuana game since voters approved Amendment 2 in November 2018, and a partnership with a cultivator formed organically through a friend, he said.

“I kept trying to punch holes in it – knowing the expense that goes into this and the risk and exposure, but doors just kept opening,” Wistrom said. “It just kept proceeding forward as if it was supposed to happen.”

Wistrom partnered with Matt Bickel of Colorado-based Bickel Consulting, which provides cannabis businesses worldwide with solutions to increase efficiency and production. Bickel has worked with companies in multiple states, and he has over 17 years of experience as a cultivator, according to Revival 98’s website.

Bickel will act as consultant and cultivator for Revival 98. Wistrom said Bickel is currently planning on being in Springfield for a six-month term to build a cultivation team and to train a lead grower. If business takes off, Wistrom said Bickel is considering Springfield as a permanent location.

State application data show Revival 98’s potential dispensary, cultivation and manufacturing site is slated for 2860 S. Austin Ave. – the former Heart of America Beverage Co. distribution center off Kansas Expressway and Battlefield Road.

Wistrom said the vertical integration also improves potential markup of the products.

“I do feel that our grower is one of the best in the country,” Wistrom said. “I think it’s really important for our product to hit the market as untainted and as much in its raw state as he intended it to be.”

City count
In Springfield, Planning Director Bob Hosmer said the city has received 97 zoning applications for dispensaries and cultivation and manufacturing centers. Eight applications were denied because the sites were too close to schools and day cares or they were in an incorrect zoning district, according to a memo Hosmer sent to Springfield City Council. Hosmer said 70 of the applications were for medical marijuana dispensaries.

Desmond Morris, founder and CEO of The Wholesome Bud Co., has applied to open a dispensary, at 1824 S. Glenstone Ave., and a 12,000-square-foot cultivation and manufacturing center, at 1514 S. Enterprise Ave. Both locations have been approved by the city, and Morris has invested about $63,000 into his business plans so far.

Morris said he was surprised by the number of applications the state received, but he’s confident The Wholesome Bud will be serving the Springfield area soon.

Morris previously told SBJ having both centers would give Wholesome Bud a leg up.

“Things are going to change almost weekly,” Morris said in July of the burgeoning industry.

“Being able to have it all gives you the flexibility to adjust your business on the market factors.”

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