Legal Sales Success in Missouri

Stephen Andrews
11 Jul 2023

The Show-Me State launched its legal cannabis market as recently as February this year. In a matter of just three months, adult-use retail surpassed an impressive threshold of going above $1 billion. By early June, Missouri was on the list of the nation's top six cannabis markets.

Missourians look incredibly excited about the new legal industry in their state if we judge by how fast Cannabis became success there. Missouri launched its licensed pot shops earlier this year, and it didn't take very long before the state started climbing the list of the nation's biggest markets. 

"Missouri's quick ascension into a top-six cannabis market shows that the recipe of low-tax, customer-friendly access, and tremendous community buy-in, is maximizing this industry's impact on the Missouri economy," has commented Andrew Mullins, the executive director of Missouri's Division of Cannabis Regulation. 

"After just the first four months of adult use sales, it's apparent that Missouri is proving to be one of the most successful launches of a new marijuana market in the country's history and a roadmap for other states to follow," Mullins said. 

On May 2, already, just three months after rolling out legal dispensaries, Missouri had reached a fantastic milestone, having surpassed a $1 billion threshold in legal cannabis sales. That was more than double what Illinois did in a state with twice the population. 

Medical cannabis sales in Missouri began in October 2020. A ballot initiative to legalize the adult use of cannabis was passed by a 53-47 margin on November 8, 2022. Since then, things have moved forward pretty swiftly. Possession for adults 21 and above became legal on December 8, 2022, and the first licensed dispensaries went into operation by February 3, 2023. 

Numbers suggest that the legal cannabis market has opened nearly 15,000 new jobs, with early indications that these jobs pay higher than cannabis jobs in many other legal states. 

"Missouri's newest billion-dollar industry is experiencing significant job growth, providing great products and services to Missourians, and becoming an integral part to the local economy throughout the state," said Mullins.

"Missouri has avoided so many of the early hiccups that other states have experienced transitioning from a medical cannabis program focusing on quality, affordability, access and selection. Missouri's cannabis program could not have gotten off to a better start," he added. 

The new cannabis laws also led to the expungement of thousands of prior cannabis-related convictions in the state, the majority of which misdemeanors. More than 30,000 expungements for misdemeanors related to nonviolent cannabis charges have been processed so far (ineligible are offenses that involve selling weed to minors or driving under the influence), and over 10,000 felony convictions have also been expunged. 

The automatic expungement is funded partly by the state's 6% sales tax buyers pay on adult-use marijuana sales. Besides covering operational costs for the court system, marijuana tax money is also redirected to public defenders, drug addiction treatments, and supporting veterans among others. 

Only a few other states have had such tremendous success with legal cannabis as Missouri. But if this is what it means that newly launched legal states have learned from the mistakes of the early legal states, it certainly is the kind of news we all want to hear about more often. 

Stephen Andrews