Missouri Tops $1.3 Billion in First Year of Recreational Sales

With every election season that comes, it’s become almost inevitable that at least one or two more of the states will legalize cannabis for either fully recreational usage or at least medical reasons. Even if it was but a midterm election, the 2022 election season still resulted in two more states legalizing cannabis for recreational purposes, those being Maryland and, more interestingly, the heartland state of Missouri. When Missourians passed the 2022 bill Amendment 3 by a 53-47 margin, which legalized cannabis for recreational use, activists and professionals alike knew that it would make for a very interesting state of affairs.

Due to several beneficial factors, the first year of recreational sales in Missouri broke the astronomical margin of $1.3 billion. In fact, every month of the 2023 fiscal year topped $90 million in recreational sales. The billion-dollar figure alone is a financial wonder, as the total population of Missouri was only 6.1 million as of 2021. Interestingly, the Missouri cannabis industry also reached $1 billion in annual sales during a period that was actually considered a three-month decline when compared to previous months.

According to MJBizDaily data, Missouri outsold Maryland, Connecticut and even the chaotic and problem-laden New York cannabis industry. Within the first month of 2024, the total amount of all-time cannabis sales in Missouri easily surpassed $2 billion. Compare that to Illinois, which sold approximately $670 million during their first year of recreational sales despite having over twice the population of Missouri, and having the very frequently visited and populated metropolis of Chicago. Although Missouri has half the population, they sold twice as much cannabis to recreational consumers in their first year of recreational sales.

While there admittedly is a geographic advantage that Missouri certainly possesses in terms of sharing a border with only one other state with recreational cannabis (Illinois), there are more factors at play when observing the undeniable success of the Missouri cannabis industry. First, the licensing and operating costs for a compliant dispensary or cultivation facility are far more affordable than other states. Second, the Missouri Legislature and the Division of Cannabis Regulation came up with the micro-licensing program, an innovative way for those who can’t afford the several thousand-dollar annual costs that come with running a full-scale cultivation facility or dispensary. With this program, prospective applicants would only have to pay a flat rate of $1,500 for each dispensary or wholesale license.

And Missouri is doing some good things with its influx of cannabis dollars. According to a Missouri Times press release on the first anniversary of retail sales:

“The tax revenues from these sales have helped fund more than 100,000 automatic expungements for past, nonviolent cannabis offenses from Missourians’ records. Today, 19,029 Missourians work directly in the legal cannabis industry, compared to only 9,838 jobs the month before the November 2022 legalization vote.”

Indeed, one of the most important provisions of Amendment 3 is where the estimated $100 million in 2023 cannabis tax revenue will be allocated: expungement. This legal mechanism will give a second chance at all aspects of life to many Missourians with cannabis convictions. Moreover, when the bill was signed by Governor Mike Parson, a mass expungement program instantly took effect, and without applicants having to fill out a single form towards the expungement process.

“Part of the 6% sales tax that Missourians pay on adult-use marijuana sales goes to fund automatic expungements of past, nonviolent cannabis offenses.” the Missouri Times press release explained. “Missouri became the first state in the nation to automatically expunge these marijuana charges by a vote of the people. So far, more than 100,000 marijuana offenses have been automatically expunged and that number will continue to rise over the next year.”

Going into 2024, Missouri will remain a state worth watching. Given its advantageous location when compared to prohibitionist neighboring states, The Show Me State will also continue to have many ongoing advantages and opportunities for economic growth.