Columbia will have at least one medical marijuana dispensary, as will Moberly and Mexico, applicants for licenses learned Thursday from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
The department began sending notices Thursday morning to the 1,163 companies that applied for the 192 licenses available under the provisions of Amendment 2, which was passed by voters in November 2018. The department did not post the list of license approvals and denials before the close of business due to the large number of notices that were sent, spokeswoman Lisa Cox wrote in an email.
The notices went out a day ahead of the department's self-imposed deadline for making the decisions. The full list should be published Friday on the department's website, she wrote.
"We anticipated that this may happen with this large batch of applicants," Cox said. "This is why we decided to get a jump start on the process today rather than waiting until tomorrow (as previously announced) and going into the weekend."
GRD Columbia was awarded a license, CEO Jay Patel said, adding that the company's applications for dispensaries in Mexico and Troy were also approved. Patel declined to answer other questions except by email and did not respond to the questions by press time.
MO Med Moberly also received a license for a dispensary, CEO Brooke Foster said. The company also has applications for dispensaries in Fulton, Chillicothe, Hannibal and Kirksville and she did not say whether those applications were also approved.
"We're excited about it," Foster said, adding that she needed to speak to her attorney before commenting further.
The state will license the minimum number of dispensaries required by Amendment 2. The licensing decisions are the last of the series that has included testing labs, transportation companies, cultivators and infused-product manufacturers.
The amendment required the dispensaries to be distributed geographically throughout the state, with at least 24 in each of the state's eight congressional districts.
“We are committed to making medical marijuana safe and accessible for qualified patients of Missouri,” Lyndall Fraker, director of the Section for Medical Marijuana Regulation, said in the release. “This phase of program implementation is vital to product accessibility for Missourians throughout the entire state.”
The number of people approved as medical marijuana patients is 29,457 as of Thursday morning, Cox stated in an email. There are also 820 people certified as caregivers, meaning they can legally grow and possess marijuana on behalf of people with patient cards.
That is 10,000 more patients than was predicted would be certified this year for medical marijuana in a study performed by the University of Missouri and 3,000 more than the study forecast would be certified by 2022.
Approximately 6 percent of patient applications and 17 percent of caregiver applications have been denied, the statistics showed.
Of the dispensary applications in central Missouri, there were 51 from Boone County, two from Audrain County, three from Cooper County, one from Howard County and seven from Randolph County.
Howard County applicant Lit Naturals from Fayette, did not receive a license, owner Eric McSwain said.
"It sucks," he said. "We are a small family-owned business, minority-owned at that. We really went to great lengths to put these applications together, and my heart really goes out to the town as much as myself, because these are some pretty great economic opportunities that will be missed."
The Columbia City Council last year passed an ordinance to limit the number of licenses locally, with no more than seven allowed in the city.