Cannabis retailers in Missouri rang up more than $100 million in sales in February, the first month of legal recreational marijuana sales in the state. According to information from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services released on Friday, total cannabis sales came to $102.9 million last month. The figure includes nearly $72 million in adult-use cannabis retail purchases, while sales of medical marijuana in Missouri topped $31 million for the month.
Missouri voters legalized the recreational use of cannabis in last year’s midterm elections with the passage of Amendment 3, a ballot measure that was approved with more than 53% of the vote. Sales of recreational marijuana began at existing medical marijuana on February 3, less than three months after voters approved the adult-use cannabis legalization measure.
Andrew Mullins, executive director of the Missouri Cannabis Trade Association (MOCann), said that the opening month of regulated sales of adult-use cannabis in the state eclipsed the launch of recreational pot sales in neighboring Illinois in 2020.
“That’s more than double what Illinois did in a state with twice the population,” Mullins said about Missouri’s $71.7 million in adult-use cannabis sales last month. “So it really shows the interest and excitement for the new adult-use industry in Missouri.”
Mullins noted that if the pace of sales during the first month continues, Missouri cannabis retailers will sell more than a billion dollars worth of weed this year. He attributed a portion of February’s sales to visitors from adjoining states. Out of Missouri’s eight neighboring states, only Illinois has legalized recreational marijuana to date.
“Canna-tourism folks that may decide to come to Missouri to access and utilize cannabis,” Mullins told St. Louis Public Radio. “That seems to also be having an impact on the amount of sales that Missouri’s experiencing.”
Laurie Gregory, the chief marketing officer for Good Day Farm, said that the company’s dispensaries in cities such as Kansas City and Independence located near the borders with other states saw significant traffic from out-of-state customers.
“Opening weekend we had patients who drove from Texas and Illinois,” Gregory said. “There are states around Missouri that don’t have a program. Anecdotally, what we hear is that the border town dispensaries are having significant sales because of that.”
Regulated Weed Prices Lower Than Neighboring Illinois
Prices compared to cannabis retailers in the one neighboring state with regulated recreational marijuana sales were also cited as a factor behind the strong numbers in Missouri.
“At the different stores, we have flower strains priced from $25 to $40,” said Gregory. “In Illinois, it’s anywhere from $30 to $60.”
Jack Cardetti, a spokesman for MOCann, said that better access for consumers is largely behind Missouri’s strong sales numbers, noting that the state has 196 dispensaries to serve a population of 6 million, while Illinois has only 113 retailers but a population of 12 million. He also noted that taxation exacerbates the price difference between the two states.
“Not only are the retail prices lower in Missouri than Illinois, but when you actually factor in the higher taxes in Illinois, the take-home price is significantly lower,” Cardetti says. “We’ve seen time and time again, if you tax marijuana too much, people will continue to access the illicit market, which is exactly what legalization is meant to prevent.”
Former NBA star Al Harrington’s company Viola is backing two cannabis dispensaries that opened in St. Louis over the weekend, making the shops the only Black-owned retailers in the city, according to Daniel Pettigrew, the CEO of Viola STL. He said that the city has given the company a warm welcome and noted that the company’s dispensary on Iowa Street in St. Louis is the only cannabis retailer in the city with a drive-thru.
“We want people to be able to come into a safe, secure place, get their product and then get out, so that’s the main thing. It will really allow us to serve more customers,” Pettigrew told KSDK television news. “This neighborhood is in the community, so it was important to them, as we met with them, that they didn’t want a lot of people standing around and lingering in the area. It just allows us to complete the transaction in a safe secure environment, facilitate it, get everyone what they need and let them get on their way as quickly as possible.”
Bryce Chapman, a consumer who previously purchased marijuana from the unregulated market, said that buying from dispensaries is easier than buying from underground dealers. He added that he appreciates the consistent quality and clear pricing at regulated dispensaries, factors he said make him a repeat customer of the new shops.
“You can just go in, get what you need and leave,” said Chapman. “You don’t have to find the guy with the right kind of stuff or anything like that – you can just go get exactly what you need. I really like how scientific it is. Like, ‘Do you want this much THC or do you want a higher dose? Do you want sativa dominant?’ Before it was just like, I’ll just get what I can get.”