The anticipated availability of medical cannabis in Missouri early next year is fueling a surge of patient interest, with state health regulators approving more than 10,000 patient and caregiver applications in the program’s initial weeks.
As of Thursday morning, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reported approving a total of 10,026 patient and caregiver applications (9,806 patients, 220 caregivers) out of more than 11,000 submissions. That works out to a weekly average of nearly 1,000 new patients since the program started accepting applications in late June.
“Much as we’d like to say this comes as a surprise, the new data is consistent with both our early projections and the intense interest we see and hear among Missourians each day,” said Andrew Mullins, executive director of the Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association (MoCannTrade).
The high initial patient count comes after prospective business owners submitted 2,163 applications in mid-August for the fewer than 350 operating licenses the state will award to grow, manufacture and sell medical cannabis in Missouri. Those cultivation, infused product manufacturing and retail dispensary licenses will be issued by Dec. 31, with the first retail sales expected in spring 2020.
The state data further shows the fundamental flaws in a report by a team of University of Missouri economists earlier this year which estimated that by 2022, just 26,000 patients would enroll in the state program — a threshold that will instead be topped before Thanksgiving if the current pace of enrollment holds.
Under Article XIV of the state Constitution, which voters overwhelmingly approved in November 2018, Missouri residents with cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma and 20 other qualifying conditions can purchase or cultivate medical cannabis with a physician’s recommendation. The new law also provides physicians with the discretion to certify patients who have other chronic and debilitating medical conditions that could benefit from medical marijuana.
The Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association (MoCannTrade) is an association of business owners, health care providers, professionals, patients and residents responsible for helping to implement a successful, safe, compliant medical marijuana program in Missouri.
The membership-based association is directed by a board of diverse professionals experienced in medical marijuana, healthcare, law, pharmaceuticals, science, agriculture, law enforcement, security, commercial real estate, finance, public affairs and regulatory sectors.
To learn more about MoCannTrade please visit www.mocanntrade.org