Small businesses hope to join medical marijuana industry

ST. LOUIS - A free event in south St. Louis Monday (March 11) aimed to educate about medical marijuana and support the small business community looking to become part of the new Missouri industry.

Missourians overwhelmingly voted in favor of Amendment Two in November which legalized medical cannabis.  Under the new law, a person must get physician approval to get a medical marijuana card.

Dr. Zinia Thomas said she has been recommending CBD products to her patients at Radiance Float and Wellness in Brentwood.

"I really have seen great benefits for pain, anxiety, mental health issues, even cancer," said Thomas.

When Amendment Two passed, Thomas said she immersed herself in learning more about cannabis and became certified in Cannabis Medicine at the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine.  Thomas plans to treat her patients holistically by incorporating medical cannabis with other services like float therapy, cryotherapy, and infrared sauna.

"In addition to your medical card, come and float two times a month, and that's really going to round out mental health treatment," Thomas said as an example.

The new law allows a patient to grow up to six marijuana plants or purchase up to four ounces each month from a dispensary.

Chris O'Keefe, the co-founder of Intuitive Cannabis Industries, a branding, and marketing company, said in June the Department of Health and Senior Services will release more information about the licensing rules and regulations as well as applications for those wanting to join the industry.

"So, this will allow those individuals who are looking to do cultivating, processing or dispensary, they'll be able to see the applications and start filling them out.”

A patient may apply for a medical cannabis card beginning in July.  The state expects an estimated 180,000 Missourians to apply.

In August, applications to grow, process, or dispense medical cannabis may be submitted.

O'Keefe explained the cultivators grow the cannabis plant.  Processors take the cannabis plant and turn it into a usable product.  Patients will be able to buy the final product from a dispensary.

According to O'Keefe, the applications to grow, process or dispense are lengthy and detailed.  Applicants must show the state they have a solid business model.

O'Keefe said, "It's not for the faint of heart."

A non-refundable fee is required with each application.  There is a $6,000 fee for an application to process or dispense.  The fee for an application to cultivate is $10,000.

The state plans to license more than 300 medical cannabis-related businesses or as many as it takes to meet demand.  Licenses will be awarded as early as Dec. 31, 2019.

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