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Homegrown? Marijuana business hopefuls in Missouri competing with country’s largest pot retailers

ST. LOUIS — The hungriest competitors for state licenses to open marijuana businesses in Missouri are from other states, records show.

Out-of-state companies, including some of the nation’s largest retail marijuana chains, submitted the highest numbers of applications for licenses to grow, process or sell marijuana for medical purposes in Missouri.

Because of the financing and regulatory know-how required to start a marijuana business, some locals are concerned that ownership of the industry — expected to top more than $100 million in sales by 2025 — will disproportionately go to firms outside Missouri.

“There are rich men in suits coming from all over this country with bags full of cash,” said Richard Rodriguez, a St. Louis restaurant owner who applied to open a dispensary in south St. Louis. “I’m all for competing in a fair playing field. But that’s not what appears to be happening here in Missouri.”

Missouri became the 33rd state to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes after 65% of voters in November approved Amendment 2, starting a stampede of business owners looking to capitalize on the new market. They include first-time entrepreneurs and family-owned businesses from a wide array of backgrounds. They also include prominent lawyers, people with ties to state politics, and business executives in other industries in addition to large marijuana retailers from other states.

The state has raked in a total of more than $13 million in nonrefundable fees — $6,000 per dispensary or processing license, $10,000 per cultivation license — from 2,163 marijuana business applications filed by at least 700 different groups. [Read More @ The St. Louis Post-Dispatch]


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