When voters in November 2018 approved medical marijuana in the state, Missouri moved quickly. Within a year, licenses had been issued for cultivation and manufacturing facilities and dispensaries.
Things were moving fast, much to the relief of medical marijuana advocates and patients who had watched nearby states adopt similar programs but then drag their feet on implementing them.
But after the licenses were issued, everything seemingly went quiet. It's true that much of the attention in 2020 has turned to other issues, but we waited for the promised dispensaries in the Joplin area to open.
The good news is that they are still on track to open — perhaps even later this year, if all goes well. Two dispensaries — one in Neosho and one in Joplin — told us last week that they are renovating their buildings, requesting the necessary inspections from the state and awaiting products from cultivators. Growing these crops takes time, and because cultivators only received a license in December, that makes this season their first to have plants for medicinal products available for dispensaries to sell.
State officials, meanwhile, said that the coronavirus pandemic hasn't had too much of an effect on the medical marijuana program, despite the Department of Health and Senior Services overseeing both.
We appreciate the state of Missouri and the license holders working together to make this a (relatively) quick rollout of medical marijuana.
And we urge the state to stay focused on ensuring that these facilities can open despite the coronavirus pandemic by prioritizing their inspections, supporting them as they launch and helping them work through any kinks they might encounter in the system.
Patients — more than 57,000 now who have been approved for cards, according to state records — are counting on this program for their health. We can't let them down now.