Emily Million and her mural at Kansas City Cannabis Co. in Kearney, Missouri. (Photo provided by Emily Million)

Emily Million, a Springfield-based artist, has found a place for herself and her art in Missouri’s burgeoning marijuana industry.

Million has used skills she says she was “born” with and has honed over the course of a successful career to work on changing the perception around cannabis use.

In this vocation, she has focused on everything from small paintings of marijuana buds and flowers available for purchase to large indoor and outdoor murals for dispensaries and related establishments.

Million literally ‘born’ to be an artist, found a calling in destigmatizing marijuana

Million’s parents, Lesley and Barry, own and operate Terrell Creek Farm. Lesley, like her daughter, is also an artist and studied fine art at Missouri State University. But inheriting those skills alone isn’t what makes Million unique — she was nearly born in MSU’s sculpture studio. 

“She’s a phenomenal artist,” Million said of her mother. “She was getting her art degree when she was pregnant with me and her water broke in the sculpture studio. Since then, I’ve just always had an affinity for art, even as a toddler. … I would fall asleep with crayons in my hands.”

Upon graduation, Million’s job took her all over North America. Working for Bass Pro Shops, she painted canvas after canvas everywhere from Alaska to Nova Scotia to the Wonders of Wildlife museum right here in Springfield for nearly a decade.

“That was really good for my 20s,” she said.

While she still occasionally does work for Bass Pro, her career took a different direction about three years ago.

“[Cannabis art] actually wasn’t really on my radar, but I had this dream that I needed to start painting cannabis to help change the stigma around it,” she said.

After the dream, Million did some background research and found very few artists that were doing “marijuana art,” or at least the kind that she wanted to do.

“I just wanted to make art that was inviting, engaging and would appeal to a broad range of people as the market opened up,” she said. “…At the time, I didn’t notice a lot of people making cannabis art, certainly not in the area. Then I started posting photos and content of me consuming to take a step further to more normalize cannabis use.”

But it was long before the dream that she saw the benefits of cannabis first hand, when a family member going through cancer treatment used marijuana to help maintain a healthy appetite and reduce pain.

‘A really beautiful plant’

Million was able to apply the skills she developed over the course of her career in painting nature and plant-related artwork to marijuana.

“It’s a really beautiful plant,” she said.

Many have found her paintings of the plant and its very strains beautiful as well, as she now finds herself dominating the “marijuana art” industry in the Ozarks. 

Emily Million in front of the Green Light Dispensary outdoor mural in Springfield. (Photo provided by Emily Million)

Million initially had to reach out to dispensaries to spread the word about how she would like to get involved in the industry that was still finding its footing after medical marijuana was legalized in Missouri in 2018.

Already having been a well-known artist, she has since become a recognizable face in the industry, and even made the cover of The Evolution Magazine, a Missouri-focused, monthly medical marijuana publication.

Today, Million said businesses often reach out to her and her work in “marijuana art” has effectively become her primary focus. 

Million-painted marijuana buds can be spotted across Springfield

While she’s brought her marijuana painting skills across Missouri and even out-of-state, her focus is in Springfield and the Ozarks.

Old Route 66 Dispensary on North Glenstone was the location of her first major project in this “marijuana art” venture, where she painted the canopy above the entryway.

Emily Million painting the overhead canopy at Old Route 66 Dispensary in Springfield. (Photo provided by Emily Million)

Route 66 was the first of many dispensaries to commission Million to paint canvases, ceilings and walls. She’s done work for standalone dispensaries to chains, including Easy Mountain in Republic, Green Light and Kansas City Cannabis Company, among others.

Her art includes closeups of buds and flowers and a wide variety of landscape murals that incorporate marijuana into historical and pop culture references. 

Due to some of her work being displayed on the outside of buildings, Million said she had to familiarize herself with the laws and regulations around what can and can’t be visible to the general public. 

As the market evolves, and marijuana is set to soon be available recreationally in Missouri thanks to the passage of Amendment 3 in 2022, Million is grateful to see the changing perception around marijuana. Even if any of that has been a result of her art, she still will have plenty of work to do, and expects to have a busy few years as Missouri’s recreational marijuana industry grows.

“It’s a brand new market,” Million said. “Which is exciting, I’m kind of going to help shape how it evolves and grows and fits for Missouri. It’ll be a really cool process to watch.”

Those interested can learn more about and see more of Million art can visit her website, Instagram and Facebook.

Emily Million canvas painting of a marijuana plant. (Photo provided by Emily Million)

Jack McGee

Jack McGee is the business and economic development reporter at the Springfield Daily Citizen. He previously covered politics and elections for the Citizen. Before that, he worked at documentary film company Carbon Trace Productions and Missouri State University’s student-led newspaper, The Standard. He’s an MSU graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism and a minor political science. Reach him at jmcgee@sgfcitizen.org or (417) 719-5129. More by Jack McGee