Haves, have-nots of Missouri cannabis industry in conflict as dispensaries open

While scores of would-be entrepreneurs sit out, barred from participating in Missouri’s medical marijuana program, a select number of cannabis businesses are racing to cash in on the state’s newest industry.

The Department of Health and Senior Services, as of Friday, had cleared 17 dispensaries to open their doors, as well as 11 cultivators and one manufacturer of cannabis-infused products. Not all of the approved businesses — including the lone manufacturer — have started selling product.

Those lucky winners, critics say, are beneficiaries of arbitrary caps on the number of licenses and of a flawed scoring process, which have reduced the availability of medical cannabis and limited competition.

Joseph Bednar, attorney for the Sarcoxie Nursery Cultivation Center, a losing applicant suing the state to overturn Missouri’s licensing caps, said the limits harm patient access to medical cannabis, in violation of the constitutional amendment that instituted the state’s program.

He said the state’s system has caused more weed scarcity, and limits where it is sold, increasing costs for consumers, some of whom might have to travel long distances to purchase medical marijuana.

“The more expensive the medicine is, the fewer patients that can afford the medicine,” Bednar said. “You have both a geographic issue of access and an economic issue of access.” [Read more at St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

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