The Farmer's Wife medical marijuana dispensary is located at 2935 E. Chestnut Expressway in Springfield. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

Within an hour of the Farmer’s Wife Medical Marijuana Dispensary opening for business the day after voters approved legal recreational pot in Missouri, about 10 people had already called the Springfield shop to ask if they could buy it without a license now.

Not just yet, said David Brodsky, the director of retail for Farmer’s Wife. But the business, which has locations in Springfield, West Plains and Mountain Grove, will be ready when recreational pot is expected to roll out across the state in a few months.

“At two of our three locations, we have rented an additional space that’s adjacent to our stores,” he said. “So we’ll expand into those spaces.”

And next month, they’ll be ready to apply for a new state dual license allowing for medicinal and adult use sales at one facility. Most of the roughly 200 medicinal license holders across the state are expected to do the same, while a state lottery will be run to grant a capped number of  “micro-licenses” to new applicants as marijuana sales expand. 

And come February, Brodsky is expecting to have a different answer for anyone calling to ask if they can buy legal weed without a medical license. He also had a few more answers to some common questions he said he’s received from patients in the run-up to the Amendment 3 vote and the hours that followed its passing. 

So, when can you buy it? 

The Farmer’s Wife medical marijuana dispensary is located at 2935 E. Chestnut Expressway in Springfield. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

Recreational pot enthusiasts, mark Feb. 8 on your calendar. But use a pencil. 

“What we’re telling patients is that is the earliest that we could potentially be open for adult use sales,” he said. “But we also are expecting a little bit of a process with the state. So, that could take an additional 30 to 60 days. We’re just preparing people that it might not be on the very first day that it is legally possible.”

Whatever day it happens will likely be a busy one, said Brodsky, who was working in Colorado’s cannabis industry when recreational pot was legalized there. Back in 2013, when dispensary doors opened for any adults in Colorado, lines were out the door and shelves were left barren, Brodsky said. 

But that was when Colorado was an anomaly, and people were flocking from out of state to bask in a legal weed oasis. With two-fifths of U.S. states open for recreational business, Brodsky said he doesn’t expect a frenzy. But retailers are anticipating a much larger customer base in short time. 

“If you look at states that have gone before us, where they have been medical and then flipped to rec — looking at those states’ experiences — the best guest for Missouri is we’ll see about a doubling of the overall market, statewide.” 

That would happen over the first 12 months, he said, and then statewide marijuana sales are projected to triple over the next 24 to 30 months. As of October, nearly $530 million in marijuana dispensary sales have been reported in Missouri since the state legalized medical use in October 2020. 

With all that new projected growth, it begs the question: 

How will increased demand affect pot prices?

Assorted cannabis “flowers.” (Photo by Jym Wilson)

“That’s been a very common question that we are seeing on social media and from our patients that are concerned that the medicine that they’re buying today is going to all of a sudden be double the price in a couple of months,” Brodsky said. 

Currently, an eighth of an ounce of flower at Farmer’s Wife dispensaries tends to retail in the $25 to $50 range, depending on what you want. Brodsky said he has looked at some statewide data that suggests to him there might be a small supply crunch that leads to a small increase in prices. “But I think it’s going to be very short-lived,” he said. 

That’s because the state’s grow facilities have been producing more pot than they have been selling, and they have a lot of room to grow. In short, Brodsky said, the industry has been prepping for this moment. 

He pointed to stats in the latest Missouri Department of Health and Human Services annual report on the state’s medicinal marijuana program. During the 2021 production year, Missouri cultivators packaged 107,043 pounds of unprocessed marijuana. During that time, 76 percent of it was sold to dispensaries or manufacturers. So there is untapped supply, Brodsky said. And as 2021 progressed, the gap between packaged product and shipped product was widening. In November 2021, cultivators harvested and packaged 16,434 pounds of pot, and only 10,830 of it was sold and shipped. 

“And we’ve only had more and more grow licenses come online since then,” he said. “So that tells me that there is ample supply out there.” 

On top of that, DHHS reported that in 2021, production at Missouri’s cultivation facilities was projected to explode from about 35 percent of what the facilities were capable of producing in 2021 to about 85 percent in 2023. That would be roughly 765,000 pounds of grass. Brodsky said that’s in line with what he’s seen on facility tours.  

“In the last two months, I’ve been in about eight of these 62 grow license (facilities), about 15 percent of them or so,” he said. “And every single one of them is operating at 30 to 50 percent capacity. They’ve got the rooms built out. They’ve got the lights in there. They’re ready to rock. All they need to do is put people in there, and put plants in there. There is a lot of capacity that is going to get ramped up in the next couple of months.” 

So Brodsky has been telling medical card-holders to expect prices to hold fairly steady, and he’s been telling them to hold onto their medical cards. 

Wait, should you keep a medical card now that pot is legal? 

Patients who seek a medical marijuana card need to get a doctor’s recommendation, and those appointments are readily available online for a fee in the $100 range. After getting that, registering with the state and filling out an application, a medical marijuana card is yours for $27.76. (A grow license costs more, $110.99.) Brodsky said that, for those using marijuana for medicinal purposes, it’s still worth the cost to either get a card or renew an existing one. 

He had four reasons: 

  • Lower tax rates. Recreational users will pay a 6 percent higher tax rate when they buy dispensary products once they’re allowed to. 
  • Job security. “If you are a medical card holder, you have some pretty solid employee protections where you cannot be fired for using cannabis at home,” he said. (Although many employers have ditched testing for marijuana altogether.)  
  • Parental protections. “If you have a medical card, you are protected in Missouri courts when it comes to your children,” he said, regarding at-home use. Putting children in danger because of substance use is a different story. Both the employee and parental protections for medicinal users are baked into the language of the very long amendment.
  • It won’t cost as much to hold onto a medical license. “Instead of having to (renew) your card every year, you will now only have to do that every three years. So the burden is much, much less.” 

For someone who purchases and uses marijuana in a medicated manner, the savings and protections will be worth about $28 every three years, he said. But, now that Missourians have legalized recreational weed, they will soon be able to make that choice for themselves. 

Cory Matteson

Cory Matteson moved to Springfield in 2022 to join the team of Daily Citizen journalists and staff eager to launch a local news nonprofit. He returned to the Show-Me State nearly two decades after graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Prior to arriving in Springfield, he worked as a reporter at the Lincoln Journal Star and Casper Star-Tribune. More by Cory Matteson