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Interest in medical marijuana use exceeds Missouri estimates

(AP) Interest in medical marijuana use has far outpaced expectations only five months into Missouri’s new program.

Missouri issued close to 22,000 medical marijuana cards since July 4, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Researchers with the University of Missouri’s Economic and Policy Analysis Research Center previously estimated that the state wouldn’t reach that many patients until 2021.

Missouri voters in 2018 made medical marijuana legal in the state. Patients with cancer, HIV, epilepsy and other conditions can apply for state-issued medical marijuana cards with a doctor’s approval.

The Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association estimates that there could be at least 122,000 medical marijuana patients by the end of 2022.

The state health department plans to start awarding licenses for businesses to grow, dispense and make marijuana-infused products by January.

Nearly 700 groups filed a total of 2,163 marijuana businesses applications in Missouri. The state will issue only 60 licenses to grow pot, 86 to make marijuana-infused products and 192 to open dispensaries.

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