WIRE Marijuana plant
The city of Belleville is considering a proposal that would allow a cannabis dispensary to open 100 feet from a school. | Eric Schmid/St. Louis Public Radio

Legal marijuana in Missouri has quickly become a billion-dollar business.

The Division of Cannabis Regulation says total pot sales surpassed the threshold May 3, just three months after recreational marijuana sales in the state began. Medical marijuana sales started in late 2020.

“It really is a pretty remarkable milestone,” said Jack Cardetti, a Missouri Cannabis Trade Association spokesman.

He says Missouri managed to avoid the problems that plagued other states, including Illinois, when launching recreational sales, such as long lines and limited access.

“And then on top of that, there was a really high tax in Illinois,” Cardetti said.

That levy could be as high as 31.25%, compared to 6% in Missouri.

Along with boosting state coffers, pot is also putting people to work. The trade group says legal cannabis is responsible for nearly 15,000 direct jobs.

There are already roughly 200 dispensaries in Missouri. They attracted more than $90 million in recreational sales in April. The state said that is about the same as March and up from roughly $71.5 million in February.

Including medical marijuana, Missouri hit $350 million in overall sales for those three months.

WIRE plantation marijuana
Dozens of cannabis clones grow under high-intensity lights at BeLeaf's growing and processing facility on Nov. 3, 2016, in Earth City. | Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio

The demand will likely increase and many operations are adjusting.

They weren't growing cannabis at full capacity late last year because of an oversupply in the medical market. Since it takes up to 4 months to go from seed to market, more pot should be available in the next couple of months.

Also, Missouri is preparing to grant more cannabis industry licenses. It's opening the application process in late July to give marginalized or under-represented individuals the chance to be part of the emerging legal marijuana industry.

The state will award 48 licenses for dispensaries, cultivation and marijuana manufacturing businesses. A random lottery drawing will occur in the fall. Missouri will hand out six licenses in each of Missouri's eight congressional districts.

This story was republished from St. Louis Public Radio.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.