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Having medical marijuana on dispensary shelves is imminent, according to Missouri state officials.

A medical marijuana testing facility in eastern Missouri passed its commencement inspection last week, clearing the way for products to reach shelves, according to a Missouri Department of Health and Human Services news release.

"With cultivation, dispensary and testing facilities now operational, medical marijuana will soon be available to Missouri patients," the release states.

Licensed cultivators have already begun harvesting marijuana.

And there are cultivation facilities that are also licensed to transport medical marijuana, said Lisa Cox, DHSS' public information officer.

It's possible some dispensaries will have products available this week, Cox said.

"We do know that some of the cultivation facilities have product grown. They had that ready to go prior to the testing lab being approved," Cox said.

Testing facilities check the level of THC (the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) and screen for any foreign matter or dangerous bacteria within medical marijuana samples.

An interactive map of licensed facilities may be found at mohealth.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=88d031a4f82449b98c30b6132b136edd.

The map shows the nearest dispensary cleared to open, so far, is Missouri Health & Wellness, 1404 Missouri Blvd. in Sedalia.

Missouri voters passed the state's medical marijuana initiative in 2018.

Some critics of the program said it has been slow getting underway. However, organizers argue the constitutional amendment that created Missouri's medical marijuana program laid out a timeline for when steps should be done, and it has met the timeline.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic appears to have delayed companies from making products available as soon as they wished this summer, the state is moving forward faster than most other states that have medical marijuana program, according to the release. It is doing that despite the amendment requirements for more facilities than any other state but Oklahoma.

And other states' programs don't require vigorous testing and tracking, like Missouri, according to the DHSS news release.

"Missouri's implementation of its medical marijuana program has been one of the most efficient implementations in the nation," the news release states, "with implementation time coming in well below average, despite a pandemic."

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