In 2018, Missouri residents celebrated a ballot initiative that resulted in the legalization of a state medical marijuana program. The amendment to the Missouri constitution included the provision of a residency requirements for majority ownership of licenses. Things did not go smoothly. The state received over 2,200 applications for the available licenses, and the parameters led to over 500 appeals from denied applicants, including multiple controversies around scoring inconsistencies, which the state is still working through.
That said, Missouri’s MMJ program was off to a promising start by late 2019 and began ramping up quickly, awarding 60 cultivation licenses, 86 manufacturing licenses, and 192 dispensary licenses. Transportation and testing facilities were also announced. Despite the obstacles posed by the pandemic, the Show-Me State opened for its first retail sale in October of 2020–with a long line of excited patients eager to purchase medicine legally.
Needless to say, the pandemic didn’t do operators or patients any favors–the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) struggled to keep up with demand from license holders eager to start operating and from patients waiting for card approval.
Fast forward to June of 2021. More dispensaries are open, but the small number of cultivators means that there’s limited product available. Current data shows that 38% of cultivators have commenced to operate, but less than 20 of those are actively providing flower to the market. This shortage has created frustration for patients.
When it comes to manufacturing, we see similar issues with supply and demand. Although 29% of license holders were approved to run full-scale production and 25 companies have actually commenced manufacturing, only a handful have been able to source enough biomass to support steady and increasing demand without paying a heavy premium for flower. To compound the issue, the market is showing a strong appetite for infused products in lieu of flower.
Dispensaries hold the greatest number of completed commencements, with a whopping 63% approved to open. But 21 storefronts are still not open as a result of readiness and product availability.
These woes are congruent with what we’ve seen in other developing medical markets. Over the next six months, we predict that supply and demand will level out and prices will “normalize” as the Missouri market matures.