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Rising Missouri Cannabis Sales Expected To Get Bigger Boost From 4/20 'Holiday'

Cannabis flower grows at a recreational grow facility in Illinois. The state awarded new recreational marijuana business licenses on July 29, the first time since the state started legal sales.
Eric Schmid
St. Louis Public Radio
Sales of medical cannabis are taking off as more dispensaries open across Missouri.

The medical marijuana industry in Missouri is booming by most measures on this April 20, or 4/20 as marijuana’s unofficial holiday is called.

The state has processed nearly 93,000 medical marijuana cards; the number of dispensaries rose from 20 last year to 80 so far this year; and the industry has generated more than $32 million in sales since the first dispensary opened in October.

Meanwhile, the number of applications for medical marijuana cardsrose sharply last month, said Lyndall Fraker, the head of the state’s medical marijuana division. He said that could be for a variety of reasons.

“We had stimulus checks go out, some people are already receiving their income tax refunds,” Fraker said. “Seems like maybe the economy and people getting over COVID, and they’re getting out a little bit more. Maybe they’re making a doctor’s appointment they didn’t make a year ago.”

The state also has raised a total of about $1.3 million in taxes, and that’s only expected to grow.

“We expected, obviously, sales to be really good,” Fraker said. He anticipates the industry will hit $100 million by late summer and up to $200 million by the end of the year.

Jack Cardetti, a spokesman for Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association, said the industry is picking up at a good time.

“With us coming out of the pandemic, there being a lot of economic uncertainty — a new industry coming in Missouri, thriving and creating jobs is good for everybody,” he said.

Cardetti said the industry is growing faster in Missouri than in neighboring Illinois.

“Already we have more facilities, more dispensaries open than the entire state of Illinois — even though Illinois is an adult-use market and has twice the population of Missouri,” he said. “So in Missouri there is going to be robust patient access.”

Several dispensaries in the St. Louis region planned their grand openings around the industry’s unofficial 4/20 holiday.

That includes Swade Cannabis, which opened its third location in The Grove neighborhood of St. Louis on Friday. Jack Haddox, director of Swade dispensary operations, said 4/20 is a big deal this year in Missouri.

“All eyes are kind of on the cannabis industry,” he said, for “people who maybe are on the fringe, maybe who hadn’t thought about getting a med card in the past or maybe hadn’t thought about going to a dispensary. And this gets our name out there on a pretty grand scale.”

Haddox expects sales to increase by 20% to 30%. But with supply still ramping up across the state, he worries about running out of some products, such as cannabis flower.

Another dispensary, called Jane, is expected to open in the Delmar Loop on Tuesday.

Fraker said only about 40% of dispensaries that have received a license from the state are up and running. Others are still constructing their spaces or going through the inspection process.

Follow Corinne on Twitter: @corinnesusan

Corinne is the economic development reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.