New cannabis dispensary is one of only two now open in central Missouri

Green Releaf dispensary’s first sale of THC flower came shortly after 1 p.m. on Wednesday. Owner Jay Patel missed it.

“I wanted to make the first sale, but I had to come out and talk to you guys,” he said with a laugh, referring to The Ledger and KOMU television’s Lauren Schwentker.

His staff were kept busy, however. Patients lined up more than an hour before THC sales began. And there was a steady procession through the doors Wednesday afternoon.

Purchasing medicinal marijuana is not a simple process. Patients must have a state-issued card. They must show identification and be checked in. They must wait their turn to enter the main area. And they must have cash.

There are regulatory hoops on the business side, as well.

“You can’t compare opening a dispensary with opening another business,” Patel observed. “It’s been a lot of long nights, a lot of stress, a lot of money up front – we’re excited to get the doors open.”

Despite medicinal marijuana being a new industry with a unique learning curve on all sides, Patel explained that the city and state have been reliable partners through the process.

Cannabis products are screened by state-accredited laboratories before approval for shipment to dispensaries. Each dispensary, in turn, is required to use a seed-to-sale tracking system certified by the state’s department of health. In addition to security and the cash-only business model, owners must use inventory control systems, an approved scale and follow many other rules.

The Mexico location is only the second operating in central Missouri. The other – located in Moberly and also owned by Patel – began selling recently. He has licenses for two more dispensaries, to be located in Troy and Columbia.

Jack Cardetti, spokesperson for the Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association welcomed the shop.

“Patient accent is absolutely critical,” Cardetti said. “It’s going to do a lot for patients and the economy.”

Currently 11 dispensaries have been approved to open across the state out of the 192 conditional licenses awarded since voters approved medicinal cannabis in 2018. Some 70,000 residents have received medical cards.

For now, the only THC product available in the state is flower and preroll. Green Releaf opened with four different strains but plans to expand to 30 offerings.

When topical balms, edibles, tinctures and other products receive approval, Patel intends to stock those, as well.

THC is one of two main healing components found in cannabis. CBD – the other cannabinoid – is also found in hemp. Many patients find that a combination of the two provides the best form of relief. However, THC is the element that causes a “high.”

Because cannabis remains illegal on the federal level, comprehensive research of its effectiveness has been difficult. What studies have been done suggest the drug works to ease chronic pain, treats the side effects of cancer treatment, can ease anxiety, PTSD, insomnia, helps with multiple sclerosis symptoms and more.

CBD derived from hemp may not have the same healing properties.

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