Director says medical marijuana could be in dispensaries this fall

4 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago Monday, July 13 2020 Jul 13, 2020 Monday, July 13, 2020 2:33:13 PM CDT July 13, 2020 in News
By: Julia Bower, Columbia Missourian

COLUMBIA (Missourian) - Medical marijuana could be available in dispensaries this fall, now that two cultivation facilities passed inspection and have been certified to begin growing plants in Missouri.

One cultivation facility near St. Louis and another in Perryville were allowed to legally plant crops in mid-June, the first businesses in the state to gain official approval.

“If you do the math, 90 days from those time frames, you are looking at September and October,” said Lyndall Fraker, director of Missouri’s medical marijuana program.

“That’s when I think you will be seeing quite a few dispensaries ready to sell product.”

More requests for certification from cultivators are expected in the next two months, Fraker said. The closest cultivation facility to Columbia is in Macon.

One of the certified growers, BeLeaf Medical in Earth City near St. Louis, has three cultivation sites available, but only one will be used until the remaining two are inspected.

“Initially we may be at hundreds of pounds per harvest, but the frequency of our harvests and amount of the harvest will increase as our operations grow,” said Dr. Stephanie Cernicek, chief science officer for BeLeaf Medical.

Fraker said the medical marijuana program is on track, and the Department of Health and Senior Services has met all of its deadlines.

“We have two cultivation facilities that are up and running now and growing product, and we have three others that have requested commencement inspections, and we have those in the works,” he said.

“We are going to have more licensed facilities than any other state except Oklahoma; a lot of people don’t realize that,” he added. “We should have plenty of product out there to allow people to get a good price on it based on supply and demand.”

Approved patients

Two-thirds of Missourians voted to legalize medical marijuana under Amendment 2 in November 2018.

n the last year, the state has received applications from 60,054 medical marijuana patients, according to the Department of Health and Senior Services, an increase of more than 30,000 since January.

Of the total applications received, 54,784 patients have been approved, according to the department.

Last month, DHSS announced it was launching an investigation into the use of unauthorized physician signatures for 600 of the approved medical marijuana applications.

State officials have said there is no evidence to indicate the affected patients were aware the physician was not authorized, but the physician certification was still not valid. Patients were given 30 days to submit a valid certification before the license would be revoked.

To read more about Columbia's dispensaries and the full story, visit our partner at the Columbia Missourian.

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