JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – An industry that this time last year existed largely on paper has since added nearly 5,000 new jobs across Missouri, a growth rate expected to rise as medical cannabis cements its foothold in the state.
Through late August, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reports issuing 4,584 state agent ID cards to work in medical cannabis facilities.That compares to just 200 such IDs issued in early September 2020, still more than one month before Missouri’s first medical marijuana dispensary opened to the public.
More than 140 cannabis retail locations (out of the nearly 200 authorized dispensaries statewide) are now approved to operate.
Analysts say the Missouri industry is expected to generate several thousand more new jobs, more than $800 million in direct spending and another $570 million in indirect spending over the course of its first full year of sales and operation.
By comparison, the state of Illinois — which with 12.67 million residents has a population more than double that of Missouri — currently has only 55 licensed retail outlets open. That’s less than one-third of Missouri’s eventual total for a program which began several years earlier.
MoCannTrade board member John Pennington, CEO of cannabis cultivation, manufacturing and retail company Proper Brands, said his company has received roughly 4,500 job applications for 150 full-time positions — an acceptance rate on par with Harvard and the rest of the Ivy League.
“The talent that we’ve been able to recruit has been second to none,” Pennington told the St. Louis Business Journal. “This is an industry that is made up of incredibly talented people who are now in a position to work in a field that’s been a dream for them …. That’s not slowing down. This business is moving the needle.”
The 234 facilities to receive state operating approval to date also includes six testing labs and 29 cultivators. DHSS has licensed a total of 380 facilities to cultivate, manufacture, test, transport and dispense medical marijuana to Missouri patients.
“There is big interest in this industry,” said Flora Farms CEO Mark Hendren, citing over 1,000 applicants wanting to work in Humansville or at its Springfield and Neosho dispensaries. “We also work with a lot of local retail businesses that tell us their businesses have grown since Flora Farms came to town.”
Patient and caregiver enrollment also continues to rise, approaching 138,000 through late August, while cumulative sales through July surpassed $90 million.
With Missouri planning to authorize a total of 192 dispensaries statewide, medical cannabis patients here will have greater access than in each of the other 19 states with similar programs, behind only Oklahoma.