Patient application numbers hit their lowest mark since January 2020

With 7243 applications filed in November, Missouri sees its lowest number of medical marijuana patient applications in nearly two years and the steepest fall in applications submitted in the program’s history.

While the overall number of patients grows to 205,897, the steady patient population growth has slowed in recent months. Overall, patient applications have fallen for the third straight month after a dismal reporting in July and a strong rally in August.

While the growth has slowed for multiple months, the steep decline may well be a product of two important factors.

Amendment 3, which legalized marijuana use for all adults over age 21 in Missouri passed on November 8. Pending legalization and the ability to purchase from dispensaries in the near future without the need for a medical marijuana card are certainly factors to be considered when evaluating the decline in November.

Second, and perhaps more important as the numbers would dictate, patient renewals also fell substantially in November. The significance of patient renewal numbers in the evaluation of overall health of the medical marijuana program is most relevant in that, the language of Amendment 3 contains an effective date of December 8, on that date, and thereafter, medical marijuana cards become valid for three years rather than one.

For patients who would have normally applied to renew in their medical marijuana license in November, it became a more cost-effective option to delay renewal until after December 8 in order to have an extended three-year license. In addition to that, patients who cultivate will see a significant decrease in the cost of their license, going from over $100 for a one-year home cultivation license to only $50 for a three-year license.

Despite the appearance of a plateau and the declining numbers, what lies ahead for medical marijuana, specifically, in Missouri may be a significant resurgence in patients. With lower pricing for home cultivators, the ability for out-of-state residents to apply for medical marijuana cards in Missouri, and a substantial tax difference, existing patients become more likely to renew their medical marijuana certifications while a new crop of potential patients arises.

While adult use sales are expected to begin early next year, those without a medical marijuana card will be unable to make purchases from dispensaries until that time. When recreational marijuana sales begin, consumers who make adult use purchases will be talked at 6%, with the potential of up to 9% with local taxes of up to 3% added, while the tax rate on medical marijuana purchases will remain at 4%.

In addition to lower taxes and a reduced cost to maintain a medical marijuana card, new laws effective December 8 ensure legal protections for medical marijuana patients, including protections from discrimination in hiring and termination without cause for those who use marijuana for medical purposes and maintain their certification.

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