KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A massive marijuana growing operation is now expanding to keep up with record sales in St. Louis and beyond. People from outside the state are fueling the growing surge since recreational sales began in February.
More and more it seems the road to weed leads to Missouri.
“It’s like running a restaurant,” said Paul Baker, general manager of the GreenLight dispensary on the Missouri/Kansas state line in Kansas City.
It’s the busiest of Greenlight’s 14 dispensaries in Missouri. It is the McDonald’s of marijuana sales, with cars typically 10 or more deep in the drive-through, and workers inside filling orders like they’re Happy Meals.
It was nowhere near this busy when only medical marijuana was legal in Missouri, Baker said.
“That changed Feb. 2 (the first day of recreational sales). They opened the door, we went from about 10 associates to 35 associates. We need it. We need more,” he said.
Most of the license plates in his parking lot are from Kansas where marijuana is still illegal. Buying it in Missouri, however, is not. The state line location now typically sells more than $100,000 worth of product daily, three to four times more than Greenlight’s St. Louis dispensaries.
Most of Greenlight’s Missouri marijuana supply is grown at a former Pepsi-Cola plant in Kansas City. There are now about 20,000 pot plants in various stages of production.
Clones trimmed from young plants become the next generation in the 90-day cycle of nurturing, irrigating, and harvesting to keep up with the surging demand for smokeables and edibles, which are also made at the former soda bottling plant. Marijuana sales that jumped to $126 million statewide in March. That’s a 22% spike from the first month of recreational sales.
Greenlight is expanding its growing facilities in Kansas City.
“We’re all growing more right now. Everybody is,” said Tom Bommarito, owner of the Greenlight dispensaries in St. Louis. “I think we’re going to be ok (in terms of supply). There’s just going to be a little lull (in varieties) for about 90 days…we bought the building behind us (the Pepsi plant) as well. That’s under construction right now to keep up with growth.”
Missouri is on pace to become the first state top $1 billion in sales in its first year of legal recreational marijuana.