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Missouri Veterans Commission Receives $5 Million From Medical Cannabis Program

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The Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services announced on May 18 that it would be transferring $5 million to the Missouri Veterans Commission (MVC). According to a press release, this is the third transfer of funds to the organization, which now totals up to $13,978,820.

Director of Medical Marijuana, Lyndall Fraker, issued a statement about the progress being made for medical patients. “Today, patients are being served by more than 180 dispensary facilities in Missouri—a 20% increase from last fall,” Fraker said. “We are happy to see the veterans served by MVC continue to benefit from these contributions.”

Paul Kirchhoff, Missouri Veterans Commission Executive Director, also praised the continued support. “MVC will use these new funds for increasing support for Missouri veterans and veteran operations across seven facilities statewide,” Kirchhoff said.

Missouri residents voted in favor of adopting Constitutional Amendment 2 in November 2018 (also referred to as Article XIV). “The amendment includes a provision requiring that fees and taxes generated by the medical marijuana program, less operational expenses, be transferred to the MVC for health and care services for military veterans,” a press release describes. “Article XIV states that medical marijuana sold in licensed dispensaries will be taxed at a rate of 4%.”

Sales began in October 2020, and since then more than $335 million has been collected in sales revenue. The Riverfront Times reports that April was an especially lucrative month for medical cannabis sales, with a total of $36.76 million collected throughout the month, and $2.85 million collected on April 20.

The MVC has received nearly $14 million as a result of the medical cannabis program. The first was a sum of $2.1 million in Fall 2020, followed by $6.8 million in 2021. Another transfer is planned to go through again sometime this fall.

The state has approved 188 licensed dispensaries, 48 cultivation facilities, and 69 product manufacturers to serve the state’s 185,000 patients. “Under Article IX of the state Constitution, Missouri residents with cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma and 20 other qualifying conditions can purchase or cultivate medical cannabis with a physician’s certification,” Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association wrote in a September 2021 release. “The law also provides physicians with the discretion to certify patients who have other chronic and debilitating medical conditions that could benefit from medical marijuana, and legally protects their right to have such conversations.”

While medical cannabis thrives, supporters of an adult-use initiative have also been working on a legalization effort. As of May 9, the Legal Missouri 2022 campaign group delivered twice as many signatures as were necessary to get the topic on the November 2022 ballot.

John Payne, Legal Missouri 2022 campaign manager, shared details about the milestone.“As we submit more than 385,000 petition signatures to the state today, the message from voters is clear: it’s past time to end the senseless and costly prohibition of marijuana,” Payne said. “This widespread and enthusiastic show of support from the people of Missouri exceeds our expectations. We look forward to the timely review and certification of our petition by the Secretary of State’s Office as we continue to educate and inform voters in the coming weeks and months.”

If it becomes law, the initiative would make it legal for adults over 21 to possess, consume, purchase and cultivate cannabis. It would also help expunge the records of those who hold cannabis convictions on their records.

As of May 10, Missouri legislators also approved a measure to open up records in relation to medical cannabis. Sponsored by Rep. Peter Merideth, the bill’s intent is to allow legislators access to specific information so they can investigate if the state has used its power properly when approving/denying cannabis licenses, if there’s a need to increase license availability, and more—all of which is information that the constitutional amendment currently bars legislators from currently accessing.