JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri officials on Friday revealed the long-anticipated list of businesses that will be allowed to sell medical marijuana starting later this year.

Sixty-six marijuana dispensaries were licensed in the St. Louis metropolitan area — more than any metro region in the state. At least 40 dispensaries were licensed in the Kansas City area, according to state records.

The list of winners was posted online Friday, capping a competition among hundreds of groups for 192 dispensary licenses statewide — 24 in each of the state’s congressional districts — to sell marijuana legally to Missourians who have a valid medical marijuana patient card. Sales aren’t expected to begin for several months, but are predicted to top more than $100 million by 2025.

Fourteen dispensaries were licensed in the city of St. Louis. In St. Louis, St. Charles and Jefferson counties, some municipalities saw one dispensary win a license, while a handful of others could see up to three dispensaries open.

A few local streets will offer a cluster of shops. Two dispensaries were licensed in the Delmar Loop. Five were licensed along a 3-mile stretch of Manchester Road through Ellisville and Ballwin. The Cherokee Street business district will see three dispensaries, and there will be another three within a mile of the former Crestwood Shopping Plaza.

Zach Mangelsdorf, owner of North Medical Group, said his company received two dispensary licenses in Jefferson County: one for 929 Peachtree Plaza Drive in Hillsboro, and the second for 1709 State Highway Z in Pevely.

The company submitted three other dispensary applications, three cultivation applications, and one infused product manufacturing application. The state rejected the company’s cultivation and manufacturing applications earlier this month, and on Thursday rejected the company’s other three dispensary applications, Mangelsdorf said.

“We’re just ecstatic to have something,” he said.

Missouri received at least 1,163 dispensary applications, making it the most competitive field for licenses to enter the state’s medical marijuana industry. Nearly 400 of the applications were for the St. Louis area.

In total, 72 dispensaries were licensed in the three congressional districts that cover the St. Louis metropolitan area. The 3rd Congressional District takes in parts of St. Charles and Jefferson counties, then stretches across the state to Jefferson City, so six of the 72 licenses are for mid-Missouri.

Summer openings

Even though the state has now awarded licenses to cultivators, dispensaries, testing facilities, and product manufacturers, sales of medical marijuana likely won’t start until summer, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

That’s because the state won’t begin “commencement inspections” for facilities until mid-March, said Lisa Cox, spokeswoman for the agency.

Some dispensaries may need to acquire permits from municipal governments or meet other requirements from local officials before beginning operations. Missouri law forbids municipalities from barring state-licensed marijuana businesses in their cities, but allows them to set zoning laws and certain operating conditions.

The state capped applicants for dispensaries at five licenses, and just one company won five in the St. Louis area. That company was Beleaf Medical, which was one of two companies licensed in 2014 to grow hemp, marijuana’s botanical cousin, to make CBD oils to treat epilepsy. The group is approved for one of the two dispensaries licensed for the Delmar Loop and one of three dispensaries along the Cherokee Street business district. They also hold a license for a dispensary in Ellisville, one in St. Peters and another in St. Louis.

Four licenses went to Nirvana Bliss, a group owned by a former Dirt Cheap and MillerCoors executive whose political action committee has donated thousands of dollars to Missouri campaigns. The group’s applications were listed under Bradford Goette, who serves as treasurer of the Relax PAC, which gave $157,600 to candidates and causes last year, including efforts to legalize medical marijuana. The group won dispensary licenses for Ellisville, House Springs and Ballwin.

Businesses with apparent ties to retailers with operations in other states also won dispensary licenses in the St. Louis area:

  • Holistic Missouri LLC, which is linked to Washington, D.C.-based Holistic Industries won a license in St. Louis.
  • Grassroots OpCo MO LLC won a dispensary license in Ballwin. The group is tied to Grassroots Cannabis, which was recently acquired by Massachusetts-based Curaleaf
  • Harvest of Missouri LLC won a dispensary license in Lake Saint Louis. It is tied to Phoenix-based Harvest House of Cannabis which is seeking a merger with Chicago-based Verano Holdings to become one of the country’s largest marijuana companies.

Another multi-state marijuana company, Greene Fox, won licenses to open four dispensaries: two in St. Louis, on South Grand Boulevard and on Manchester Avenue; and one each in St. Peters and Wright City. Owners Brian Fox and Bob Greene were among several St. Louis-area applicants who spoke to the Post-Dispatch about their plans in August.

No owner names

Owners of other marijuana dispensary license winners were not known Friday. The Department of Health and Senior Services, the agency tasked with regulating marijuana, has declined to release the names of principal owners or representatives of the groups, instead releasing a list of hundreds of limited liability companies with the names of the person, in many cases a lawyer, who formally turned in the application. Missouri law does not require ownership of limited liability companies to be public record.

Janette Hamilton, owner of TriCept Wellness, which submitted an application to open a dispensary at 4910 Natural Bridge Avenue in St. Louis, said her rejection by the DHSS was “very frustrating.”

TriCept Wellness earned the 16th-highest score in the 1st Congressional District, yet did not receive a license. Lower-scoring applications did, however.

She said the state has not provided an answer as to why TriCept’s application was rejected.

“You just receive a generic rejection letter, and then you try to get details … they say you just have to go through the appeals process,” Hamilton said.

“On this application there’s nothing we could’ve done differently,” she said. “I just don’t understand.”

Hamilton’s company also submitted an application for a cultivation license, as well as an application to open a marijuana-infused manufacturing company. Both of those applications also were rejected.

Hamilton said that some application questions were the same for both applications. When the question was the same, her company provided identical answers, she said. But, she said the state’s “blind scorer” awarded different scores.

Other applicants who were denied licenses to grow or process marijuana have detailed similar discrepancies. At least 17 groups have appealed their rejections with the Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission, hoping a judge will force state regulators to license them. One rejected applicant has sued the state in Cole County Circuit Court.

Among those rejected for dispensary licenses was Jeffrey Fillers, a Eureka businessman indicted last month on federal charges that he laundered money for a marijuana conspiracy. His group, The Daily Hybrid LLC, did not win a license to sell marijuana in Eureka but has won a license to transport marijuana from a facility there. The group was also denied cultivation and manufacturing licenses.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story said a Eureka businessman won a license to grow marijuana there. That version has been corrected.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply