Recreational pot sales pass $70M in first month

Maria Colarelli, left, assists customer Gregory Williams with his purchase of a marijuana product at Good Day Farm dispensary Friday, Feb. 3, 2023, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Maria Colarelli, left, assists customer Gregory Williams with his purchase of a marijuana product at Good Day Farm dispensary Friday, Feb. 3, 2023, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Missouri generated $71.7 million in adult-use cannabis sales after dispensaries began selling legal pot Feb. 3, according to data from the Department of Health and Senior Services.

Medical marijuana sales generated an additional $31.2 million, for a combined total of $102.9 million, according to DHSS data.

By comparison, medical marijuana sales generated $38.5 million in sales during the first six months of legalization, beginning October 2020, according to DHSS data.

The first full year of medical marijuana sales generated around $210 million, according to a news release from Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association.

In Illinois, where adult-use marijuana sales began in January 2020, $39 million in legal cannabis was sold during the first month.

By December 2022, sales had reached a record high of $143 million for that month, according to the Illinois Department of Finance and Professional Regulation.

All purchases have a 6 percent tax applied. Proceeds from this tax are split between veteran's services, drug addiction treatment and Missouri's public defender system, as outlined in Amendment 3. Medical marijuana purchases will continue to have a 4 percent tax rate.

"This is going to generate a substantial amount of tax revenue for the state in very short order, and the first purpose that tax revenue will fund is expungement of marijuana convictions," said Dan Viets, attorney and head of Missouri NORML.

The $71.7 million in legal pot sales during February would generate $4.3 million in taxes, and the $31.2 million in medical pot sales would generate another $1.2 million, based solely on simple calculations.

"That money is going to be available to circuit courts throughout the state of Missouri to implement the mandate in Article 14 to expunge almost all marijuana convictions by December of this year," Viets said.

There are 198 facilities in Missouri with licenses to sell recreational marijuana to adults, according to DHSS. Up to 97 percent of all medical marijuana facilities in the state applied to become comprehensive facilities, said Lisa Cox, communications director with the DHSS.

The state began approving applications for facilities to convert from medical to comprehensive facilities on Feb. 3. Dispensaries could begin selling to anyone over the age of 21 as soon as they received a license.

Missouri became the 21st state to legalize recreational marijuana in November 2022, when Amendment 3 was passed with 53.1 percent voter approval.

Under the new regulations, anyone over the age of 21 who presents a valid ID can purchase and possess up to 3 ounces of marijuana.

Medical marijuana patients can now possess up to 6 ounces within a 30-day period, a change from the previous 4-ounce limit, according to DHSS.

Local governments can also impose an additional tax up to 3 percent, as outlined in the amendment. The Jefferson City City Council and Cole County Commission each have approved separate measures on the April 4 ballot to ask voters whether to instate a 3 percent tax on recreational marijuana purchases within city and county limits.

In the next step of the recreational marijuana rollout, DHSS began accepting applications for personal cultivation on Feb. 6. Microbusiness application forms will be available June 6, and the department will begin processing applications on or before Sept. 4, according to the department.

A microbusiness dispensary is "designed to provide a path to facility ownership for individuals who otherwise might not easily access that opportunity," according to the department's website.

This includes individuals with a net worth of less than $250,000, veterans with a service-related disability, or those who have been negatively impacted by past marijuana prohibition, among other qualifications.

The work of the Missouri News Network is written by Missouri School of Journalism students and editors for publication by Missouri Press Association member newspapers. News Tribune staff contributed to this report.