| Kirksville Daily Express
Last January, four businesses were awarded permits to open medical marijuana dispensaries in Kirksville. Since then, several delays from the pandemic and other causes have left Kirksville without an open dispensary.
That might not be for much longer, so here’s an update on where those four businesses are at.
Missouri Health & Wellness
Missouri Health & Wellness was approved to open a dispensary at 215 East Charles Street, the former home of Donut Palace. The company was awarded five dispensaries in the state and has opened three of them. A Washington location opened on Nov. 27, a Sedalia spot opened on Dec. 21 and then a Jefferson City store opened this past Monday.
Kathleen Beebe, the regional manager for Missouri Health & Wellness, said their Kirksville location is planned to open next. A date has not been set, but she said available supply is the last major hurdle for that. They don’t grow or manufacture their products, instead partnering with companies that do. So there has been a bottleneck between supply and demand in the state.
Once she knows there will be available product, then she can hire staff. She estimated there would be about five employees for the Kirksville location, and that the company is focused on hiring a diverse staff, as best as that can be done in a rural town.
After challenges with supply and starting a new business in a new market, Beebe said she has seen many positives when the company’s other locations have opened.
“Those have been some of the biggest challenges we’ve had, but as far as what we’ve learned, this state, this market is ready for this,” Beebe said. “There may still be people who have concerns about cannabis, but I was really surprised at our demographic — it seems to be the 60 plus. Hearing people walk in and say, ‘I’ve been waiting 50 years for this day,’ and then people who are telling me what their conditions are and what suffering they’ve had. It’s just amazing and people really are ready for it.”
Missouri Health & Wellness sought locations away from the metro hubs of the state, that way it could help citizens that can’t get to St. Louis or Kansas City, Beebe said. And all of their other locations have opened as the first dispensaries in those markets. They would like that streak to continue in Kirksville.
“I think it’s been crucial to have the opportunity to start developing those relationships with the patients straight away,” Beebe said. “People want to go and check out all the dispensaries they can. Hopefully, they’ll come back around and see that we stood out from the rest of the pack. When we’re training our staff, the big thing for us is customer service. That’s what is really going to differentiate us.”
She said they hope to have the Kirksville location open by April 20, a popular holiday for those that use the product.
Ashley Young, Kirksville’s assistant city manager, said Heya Wellness and Missouri Health & Wellness are the only dispensaries to have building-related permits with the city. So those two are the furthest along, and Heya might be the first to open.
Carl Bearden, Heya President, said the goal is to open in Kirksville on or around March 15. Their location is at 120 South Main Street, which was most recently the Aquadome. Before that, it was the Main Street Bulldog, the Hot Spot and the Flamingo. Bearden said they are finishing getting up to state regulations for the space, which has a lot of emphasis on security.
Heya is a vertical company, so it grows, manufactures and sells its own product. Right now it grows in St. Ann. It applied for a cultivation site in Greentop but was denied. Bearden said he thinks they have a decent shot of winning an appeal, but that decision won’t come for several more months. However, they will have a manufacturing site in Greentop. That business should open around March 30.
Before COVID, Heya planned to open in Kirksville in mid-January. But after positive cases among workers building the cultivation site, there were pauses along the way. With that in rearview, Bearden said they are excited about opening dispensaries in Missouri. Each will have a store manager and an assistant manager that doubles as a “budtender,” which is the person on the floor who helps customers. Bearden said there should be about five employees to start, with some being part-time. And there will be a smaller amount working at the manufacturing site.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Bearden said. “I was up there last week to speak with the city manager, assistant city manager, the police chief, and give them a tour of the facility, show where we’re going and what we are going to do. It’s, I think, a great location, and we’re happy to start seeing the things we’ve had on paper, all of our visions, take shape.”
He said they aren’t in a rush to beat other competitors to market in Kirksville.
“Obviously, being first is good if you have product to put on the shelves. But our goal is to be the best,” Bearden said.
And how will they do that?
“To offer the products that patients need the most, that they want the most. As time goes on, that’s going to change and adapt, but our products will be of high quality. … We want to produce the best product available that does the best for the people, and if that happens, they’re going to come back and buy more.”
Agri-Genesis and Justice Grown
As stated above, the city hasn’t received paperwork from these two businesses yet. Agri-Genesis is the lone local operation, being owned by Macon County farmer Richard Gunnels. Agri-Genesis was approved for a dispensary located at 2120 North Baltimore. That’s part of the strip mall that has Dollar Tree.
Agri-Genesis was also approved for cultivation, manufacturing and retail spaces in Macon. Gunnels said he couldn’t provide an update just yet on any of those projects.
And Justice Grown, or JG, is in the same boat. It was awarded a dispensary location at 2400 North Baltimore, the former Rue 21 location. Vince Field is listed as the vice president of business development on state documentation for 14 approved dispensaries. The Daily Express has not yet heard back from him.
Justice Grown was founded in Illinois in 2014 and holds licenses there, along with Missouri, Utah, California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Massachusetts.