Missouri Legalization

When discussing the advent and the possibilities of cannabis legalization with those who may still be hesitant about large-scale legalization, the exponential economic benefits of cannabis legalization are a matter of absolute importance that advocates must bring up during those discussions. Even for a more straight-laced person who doesn’t necessarily consume any intoxicants at all, they can’t deny the undeniable when it comes to the numerous ways in which cannabis legalization positively impacts every level of economy, from local to state and national economy despite the still very stubborn federal policy surrounding cannabis.

Beyond the estimated $26 billion dollars a year in the American economy that cannabis sales account for, the number of jobs created from both the direct cannabis industry as well as the numerous ancillary businesses that cater directly to cannabis businesses is nothing short of astronomical. Even for an industry still very much in its infancy years and one that is only recreationally legal in 21 states, hundreds of thousands of jobs have been created from employment opportunities within those state cannabis industries.

The most recent Leafly Job Report undoubtedly proved the economic strength behind legalizing cannabis, as approximately 428,000 jobs have been created from the American cannabis industry. While no economy or industry is truly recession proof and the cannabis industry has proven to be no different given the string of recent layoffs, the cannabis industry still created 77,300 jobs during one of our country’s most difficult years, which was of course the year 2020. Possibly as an aftermath of the 2020 election where four US states legalized the plant, the rapidly expanding cannabis industry created an additional 107,000 jobs from 2021-2022.

Regardless of a state governor’s feelings and viewpoints on the matter of legalization, cannabis legalization has been objectively beneficial for job creation and domestic product creation in America. In the most recent midterm election of unbearable bombast from both sides of the aisle that hilariously resulted in mostly political stagnation in the election results, two further states legalized cannabis. As the first state to legalize cannabis that night, Maryland wasn’t exactly a surprise. The state has had cannabis decriminalization policies in place since 2014, currently has a significantly younger and more Democrat governor with Wes Moore and the 2022 recreational legalization measure passed overwhelmingly. In total, 67 percent of voters cast their ballot in favor of the measure against 32 percent that voted against the measure.

While the legalization measures in Arkansas and the Dakotas were unsuccessful that night, the biggest surprise of the night came when Missouri voted by a six percent margin to legalize cannabis statewide. The bill legalized every cycle of cannabis cultivation and retail sales as well as a far more conservative six percent tax on retail sales, a tax-related far cry from Nevada’s 25 percent tax rate or Washington’s abhorrent 37 percent tax rate. Even better for Missourians who live with the many societal disadvantages of a non-violent cannabis conviction on their criminal record, they may now apply for record expungement which would essentially give them a second chance at life.

Unlike their geographical neighbors to the Northeast, Missouri has hit the ground running with their recreational cannabis program. In the very first month of recreational cannabis sales, Missouri cannabis consumers and patients purchased a total of $103 million in products. In solely the three days of the first weekend of recreational sales, $13 million in products were sold. St. Louis’ KSDK referenced the story of Feel State Dispensary in Florissant which saw their daily customer amount going from around 150 to over 550 people per day in the first month of full legalization.

As for the number of jobs created from Missouri’s cannabis industry, let’s say that the recent layoffs across the cannabis industry won’t impact the Leafly Jobs Report number for the 2024 report nearly as much thanks to Missouri’s legalization measure.

Similarly to employment in Nevada and Colorado’s state industries, Missourians will need to apply for a license to work in the state cannabis industry which includes a background check and if a certain provision in place in Nevada becomes enacted in Missouri, then prospective applicants would have to get fingerprinted as well.  Interested applicants who may have a felony on their criminal record would need to personally verify if their offenses are considered “disqualifying felonies” or not. Any cannabis-related offense that may be eligible for expungement are also exempt from being considered disqualifying and any non-violent felony committed over five years ago is apparently also considered exempt from disqualification.

According to the most recent report from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, nearly 13,000 jobs have been created from Missouri’s cannabis industry so far. Just since November, over 3,000 jobs have been created in the state industry based upon the sharp increase in demand. A February 2023 article from the Kansas City Business Journal estimated a total of 16,000 jobs could potentially be created from the Missouri cannabis industry. If the demand and total retail sales continue to grow at the exponential level that it is, then that 16,000 figure will likely increase greatly.

And given the staunchly prohibitionist policies still firmly in place in all but one of Missouri’s neighboring states, the thousands of cannabis consumers living in those states are likely traveling into Missouri to receive their supply even though it’s technically a violation of federal law. All that interstate business from so many populous states will almost certainly result in an increase in business needs and subsequent employment that will keep that job creation number skyrocketing.



Aaron Pelley

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