Hatfield compared the current caps on medical marijuana licenses to the state’s regulation of casinos, which are limited to 13 statewide. He said one of the reasons for those caps is to “protect them (casino owners) from competition.”
While Hatfield said “you don’t want a bunch of guys in a jon boat running a casino,” he added that limits on marijuana businesses are harder to justify.
“If I meet all the minimum requirements — whatever those might be — and I want to go set up a dispensary in Jeff City,” he said, “and somebody else gets a license right next door to me, one of us is going to go out of business, most likely. So why not let the marketplace, why not let the customers determine that?”
“We don’t limit the number of liquor licenses,” Hatfield said.
Despite ongoing legal disputes, hundreds of licensees are now on individual tracks, hoping to open as soon as possible.
In a statement late Friday, Fraker said he was “confident” that medical marijuana will become available for patients this month, and that “the first testing laboratory is on track to be operational very soon.”
Three licensees had passed their commencement inspections to start growing, Cox said: Archimedes Medical Holdings in Perryville, BeLeaf Medical in Earth City, and Feelz Good Green Products in Carrollton.
Four other cultivators had initiated their commencement inspections, which were in progress.
Maximo Bonanno, listed as Blue Arrow Holding LLC’s authorized representative in state documents, said the company had planned to open a cultivation facility at the Lemp Brewery on South Broadway in St. Louis.
After a “full-fledged structural and environmental analysis” of the brewery site, he said Blue Arrow Holdings scrapped plans to grow there, instead securing state approval to move to a new site on Bulwer Avenue in north St. Louis.
He said the company made the decision to move before part of the Lemp Brewery complex collapsed last month, burying hundreds of bicycles in rubble.
Bonanno, a partner at Quarter Coast Consulting, said he expects staggered dispensary openings across the state as businesses work individually to secure final state approval and product for their shelves. He expected many to open in the first half of 2021.
“A lot of companies are moving pretty diligently,” he said. “They’re trying to get product out to patients as quickly as possible.”
He said Blue Arrow is planning its first harvest in the spring of 2021.
In order for the state’s program to run seamlessly, several licensees along the supply chain need to pass state inspections and become operational, business owners said.
“The dispensaries won’t be able to function properly unless they have adequate access to flower product,” Bonanno said.
“The biggest challenge that we’re seeing now is the ability to have product for those dispensaries,” said Susan Griffith, president of CAMP Cannabis, which stands for Certified Alternative Medicine Providers.
“We also have to factor in testing facilities as well as transportation (licenses),” she said. “There are a lot of different license types that are all under their own timelines to get operational. At the end of the day, we’re going to need all of them to be able to get dispensaries their product.”
Griffith’s company is planning to open a cultivation facility on the 7100 block of North Broadway Avenue in St. Louis with the goal of scheduling a state commencement inspection for December, “as soon as we wrap on construction.”
“We have construction teams on site,” Griffith said, adding that the company was awaiting a construction permit from the city. “We’ll be ready to start building as soon as we get the go-ahead (from the city).
“Our goal is to get plants in the ground immediately upon the commencement approval,” Griffith said.
Griffith said she’s not worried about competitors having an advantage over her company by starting their grows earlier.
“I think there’s definitely going to be no oversupply,” Griffith said. “So I think that everyone has a great opportunity to get themselves to market and establish themselves.”