(ST.JOSEPH,MO)A local CBD distributor has high aspirations to become one of the first medical marijuana dispensaries in St. Joseph. 20 After 4, opened its doors last week and is one of hundreds of applicants that have pre-filed to become a medical marijuana dispensary in 2020.
"We will be crossing over to the medical dispensary when the time comes in January. We also put in [an application] for cultivation and will more than likely be doing caregiving as well,"20 After 4 Co-owner Andrew Hicks said.
If approved by the state, the store could soon sell a variety of strains of medicinal marijuana, offer educational seminars for the public and provide a pharmacy-like service through state approved caretakers assigned to assist patients with their plant growth.
“If you were a patient and you didn’t have the knowledge, the space or the know-how to produce your plants, you would go to the caretaker and they would grow the plants for you. You would come to get your dosage or your allowed amount each month,” Hicks said.
Since January 5, Missouri has collected over $3million in pre-filing fees for businesses seeking a license to grow, produce or sell marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Jeannette Holland teaches economics at Missouri Western State University and said expenses associated with starting a medical marijuana industry in Missouri could bring in additional revenue and bolster job growth within the state.
"The marijuana industry is right now in the United States a $50billion industry,"Holland said.
Revenue brought in by the four percent cannabis tax could help boost Missouri’s infrastructure and following the lead of 32 other states that have legalized medical and/or recreational marijuana. According to California’s Tax and Fee Administration, the state brought in $93.1million in cannabis tax during the third quarter of 2018.
"The state does need revenue. We do need to maintain infrastructure,”Holland said. “We do need to create new infrastructure and anyway you can collect money to do that without increasing taxes is beneficial to everyone involved."
Currently there are 233 pre-filled applications submitted for approval for 192 dispensary licenses (24 in each of the states congressional districts) that will be awarded next year. In 2020 Missouri will also issue 61 licenses to cultivate marijuana and 82 licenses to make cannabis-infused products.
"I don't see it as competition. This happening puts everyone here in Missouri as a resident to financially gain as well as seek the medicine that they choose to have," Hicks said.
Costs associated with the pre-filling process are non-refundable and not all applicants are guaranteed approval; leaving many investors to gamble with the fees associated with their application. Pre-filing fees for cultivation facilities are $10,000 per application;fees for dispensary facilities are $6,000 per application and an application to manufacture marijuana-infused products is $6,000.
"At this point your just kind of spending money hoping that it works out. There is probably a lot of wasted money that we'll have to make up, but we’re waiting on the state to come out with the rules and regulations that let us know what exactly we have to do for the process to be achievable," Hicks said.
Once businesses have obtained a licence to manufacture or distribute medical marijuana, Holland said there are still a few financial hiccups that need to be addressed.
“I think the biggest fear right now,because it’s not federally approved, the industry is a cash industry,” Holland said. “They have a huge concern with respect to their cash. Federally insured banks will not accept accounts from people who own dispensaries because it’s still considered a federal crime.”
Applications for medical marijuana patient ID cards will be accepted beginning July 1, and applications for facility licenses will be accepted beginning August 3.