In 2018 the vote to use and distribute medical marijuana at the state level passed. Now, more businesses in the Springfield area are starting to distribute medical marijuana.

The application process for distributing products prevented retailers from selling for two years. According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services website, up to 41 forms must be filled out along with letters of recommendation. 

These forms include testing, cultivation, dispensary and manufacturing facilities for distributing medical marijuana.

Missouri issued 192 dispensaries, with 11 in the Springfield area, according to Greg Lee, owner of Hemporium, a CBD and hemp product retailer in Springfield. All licensees are now finished, except for those wishing to appeal.

Lee said many businesses spent more money on lawyers and consultants, but a majority went towards maintaining a growing facility. To apply for a license, a growing facility needed to already be in place before the application process.

“Facilities already had to be purchased, locked down or retained in some way,” Lee said. “So a lot of people were paying rent as part of a speculative ‘Am I going to get a license, am I not,’ for months and sometimes even years. It’s a very expensive process.”

Though medical marijuana has been legalized since 2018, the Missouri State University Agricultural Business department is still deciding what path to take concerning it.  Arbindra Rimal, department head of agribusiness, agricultural education and agricultural communications, thinks the department should follow the issue to see where it goes, even if it cannot be implemented at this time.

“I think, as a department head, we should watch and see how it grows as a viable commercial proposition,” Rimal said. “And if the law enterprises, we may seek some sort of internship opportunity and then, eventually, it would be something that could be part of the program. But at this stage, I don’t really see anything enticing to start the program.”

Rimal said the department would focus on the CBD side, rather than growing medical marijuana, researching better ways to grow the plants and how to increase flower growth.

The big hurdle for adopting medical marijuana to the agribusiness program is medical marijuana being illegal at the federal level, where most of MSU’s money comes from.

“It’s really in the earliest days,” Rimal said. “We don’t really know how it’s going to grow because there is legalization at the state level, but there isn’t legalization at the federal level yet. So much of the grant money comes from the federal government, so obviously with it being illegal, we aren’t going to get any money for federal research.”

An online application for a medical marijuana card is available through the MDHSS website, with proof the applicant is over 18. There is also a physical application at the Family Back and Neck Care Centre, 3100 S. National Ave, open on Friday from 1-6 p.m. and Saturday noon-4:20 p.m.