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Missouri medical marijuana sales, jobs grow after 8 months as a legal industry

Dispensaries opened last October
fresh green dispensary.png
Posted at 9:43 PM, Jul 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-05 23:55:04-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — When Missouri's first medical marijuana dispensary opened last October, a long line of patients waited to step inside the fresh.green dispensary in Lee's Summit.

Since then, business has expanded to the Waldo neighborhood in Kansas City.

"Our patient list, we have probably over 10,000 different patients that we have served in this time," said Rob Sullivan, co-owner of fresh.green dispensary.

Sullivan said his own perceptions of who is a patient have changed in his eight months of business.

"When we opened, I had sort of an impression of what I thought it was going to be, turned out completely different," he said. "We have an average age of patients in the 50s."

fresh.green is one of 125 dispensaries operating in the state. In the months since dispensaries began operating, there are more than 120,000 documented medical marijuana patients, and the industry is responsible for 3,500 jobs, with sales surpassing $70 million, according to MoCannTrade, an association of business owners, health care providers, patients and residents wanting a compliant medical marijuana program in Missouri.

One person who found a job in this budding industry is Logan Schutte, a budtender at fresh.green dispensary.

"With COVID, I actually got laid off in the warehouse industry, searched around, found them and got lucky and got in on here," Schutte said.

Schutte said it's an industry with high potential for job security.

"This is the type of industry that’s going to grow no matter what," he said.

The work, for Schutte, is rewarding. He said he feels like he's helping patients get off opioids and can see the difference in patients who walk through the door.

"It literally makes them have a new outlook on life," Schutte said. "It makes them more positive and able to see that I don’t have to be in pain all day."

The industry, according to MoCannTrade, is expected to generate nearly twice as many jobs, and create 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.

In Kansas, lawmakers in the House passed a medical marijuana bill to allow the cannabis to be sold, but the legislative session ended without the Senate voting on the bill.

Legislators are expected to take up the measure next session.