Missouri’s first licensed cannabis cultivator will stimulate sales in fourth quarter

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Missouri’s medical cannabis program is anticipated to harvest $300 million on an annual basis once sales begin. Initially, regulators anticipated that legal sales would kick off in spring. However, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has hindered the market’s launch.

Fortunately, there’s a silver lining — wholesale sales are expected by the fourth quarter. This is according to the chief operating officer of BeLeaf Medical, John Curtis, who recently divulged his insights during an interview with Marijuana Business Daily. Curtis’ company is the only to receive final state approval and it will capitalize on this opportunity by being the first cultivation site serving Missouri’s medical cannabis industry.

Now that the first medical cannabis company in Missouri has been approved by state regulators, the official rollout of a retail market will progress into the fourth quarter of this year (Q4 2020). In excess of 2,200 applications were submitted by 192 hopeful dispensary licensees, 86 processing licensees and 60 cultivation licensees; BeLeaf bagged five dispensary licenses, three cultivation licenses and two processing licenses.

Missouri’s medical cannabis program faces opposition

The news that Missouri’s medical cannabis program will soon kick into high gear is great news for the 52,000 patients who are patiently waiting for their medicine. On the other hand, the industry could face some growth-restricting roadblocks. 

Aside from the fact that patients are forced to wait until summer to buy legal medical cannabis in Missouri, the program has faced heavy opposition. In excess of 800 appeals have been made against the program’s imminent launch, which has also received numerous lawsuits and a state legislative inquiry regarding conflicting interests/alleged misconduct.

Analysts previously believed that sales revenue would be rolling in by springtime. However, since cultivation licenses were only awarded by the Department of Health and Senior Services in June, 58 cultivation sites are still awaiting the go-ahead to begin operations. The fact that existing license holders are just getting started has also stunted market growth.

Curtis of BeLeaf says that at least 12 weeks must be set aside for the company’s initial harvest. Moreover, before Missouri’s medical cannabis program is in full swing, the perfect growing season must be considered and a plan drawn up.

Cultivators supplying Missouri’s medical cannabis program will start small

The growth of Missouri’s medical cannabis program is dependent on the supply chain. While cultivation sites are licensed to grow plants over 30,000 square feet of space, it will not be possible to use all of the space in one go. 

We’re not starting out that big. We’re going to start out with about 3,000 square feet of canopy, and then we’ll add about 3,000 square feet to that every 30 days,” said Curtis, who noted how this timeframe will be necessary to grow and stagger each harvest.

“I don’t grow a whole giant room and then harvest the room all at once  Because then I’ve got this huge amount of flower that I’ve got to process, and I’ve got to process it all at the same time. So I stagger my plantings and I stagger my harvesting so I have perpetually harvesting rooms,” he added. 

According to the state’s director, Lyndall Fraker, delays in Missouri’s medical cannabis program have arisen due to slow final inspections of cultivation, retail and testing facilities. Fraker also attributes the delays to coronavirus, which led to partially-built facilities postponing construction.