Medical marijuana became legal and growing begun in Missouri a year ago. It was exciting news for tens of thousands of cardholders and caregivers. They had all been waiting to buy the medicine for a long time legally from dispensaries.
But 22 months later, no cannabis dispensaries are open. Some CBD dispensaries have opened and are biding time with licenses for medical cannabis. Dispensary owners are frustrated, and so are patients, who feel like getting medical cannabis is mission impossible. And the delay has been unreasonable for patients.
Both Missouri state regulators and dispensaries have cited delays relating to Covid-19. But is that really the problem? Why is Covid-19 to blame for the slow opening of dispensaries while other states are carrying on fine?
The residents have asked these and other questions of Missouri cannabis regulators. Voters back in 2018 made a final decision by massively voting for the legalization of medical cannabis. The constitutional amendment passed with 65% voter approval. Missouri wants medical cannabis. Patients and dispensary business owners are tired of the waiting game.
The social attitudes in Missouri on Marijuana have evolved a lot. They have changed in such a big way that many government bureaucrats were surprised.
Nineteen months was all it took after the passage of Clean Missouri for the state lawmakers to pass a proposed amendment to the amendment. But, on medical marijuana? There is no single dispensary open for business, 22 months after the voters approved the constitutional amendment.
There are thousands of citizens who understand the potential for medical marijuana to provide effective symptom relief. The state is unwilling to postpone the date when taxes are due even amid the challenging economic times caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. But the state is willing to keep moving the goal line on when medical marijuana dispensaries should begin operations.
Missouri is expected to permit medical cannabis dispensaries to open in September. Patients are hopeful. Dispensaries are skeptical that the date may yet be pushed back again.
Regarding medical marijuana, authorities came up with an explanation saying the delay was due to resistance from Missouri elected officials. It is evident that some are uncomfortable about legalization and are afraid that medical cannabis could be the Trojan horse for recreational legalization.
It seems like medical marijuana got stuck in the tall bureaucratic weeds. Some politicians in favor of it, and some staunchly opposed despite the ballot of approval from citizens in the state. In the meantime, medical cannabis businesses who have licenses, have been in an expensive holding pattern. They have been paying leases and other costs waiting for the “market to open” in Missouri.
Even without the pandemic, Missouri faced a difficult regulatory task of ushering in a new industry that creates objection among conservative citizens and politicians. Most citizens are every day losing confidence in the government’s ability to embrace and regulate the cannabis industry.
Whether all politicians in Missouri agree with medical cannabis or not, citizens voted in favor of it. Other states are rapidly expanding medical cannabis industries, including cultivation, dispensary and ancillary businesses. Increased tax revenues from the cannabis sector could not come at a better time when states are struggling with increased healthcare costs due to Covid-19.