If it wasn’t clear by the results of a 2018 referendum that legalized medical marijuana there, new figures reported by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services should make it abundantly clear that there is demand for the treatment in the state. 

The numbers, released Monday and reported by the Associated Press, showed that the department had already approved applications from more than 35,000 patients seeking a medical cannabis prescription. That is, as the AP noted, much higher than state officials in Missouri anticipated. But it’s also a continuation of an upward trend. In December, Missouri officials said they had approved nearly 22,000 medical marijuana cards since July, which, like the latest figures, also eclipsed projections. 

Sixty-six percent of Missouri voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2018 to legalize medical marijuana, bringing the state in line with more than 30 others that have laws permitting the treatment for qualifying patients.

Marijuana Mishaps in Missouri

In January, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services began the process of doling out licenses to 192 medical marijuana dispensaries. The amendment that was passed by voters allows for at least 192 dispensaries, which breaks down to 24 in the state’s eight congressional districts. 

Medical marijuana sales are expected to go on sale later this year.

Hundreds of aspiring marijuana businesses that were spurned in their bids for licenses have appealed that decision. Now, some legislators in Missouri are launching an investigation into the license-awarding process, with the probe zeroing in on a company contracted to assess the applications. Since August, there have been more than 800 appeals filed by applicants who were rejected.

“I have concerns that there were conflicts,” Republican state Rep. Jared Taylor said recently. “I find it hard to believe that there wasn’t, or something that we would at least look into.”

Emboldened by the overwhelming support for the medical marijuana amendment in Missouri, some advocates are setting their sights on taking it further, with an effort to get a recreational pot proposal on November’s ballot underway. Those activists must round up 160,000 signatures by May in order to qualify for Missouri’s ballot.

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