The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said Thursday that it had initiated the second required transfer of revenue from the state’s new medical marijuana program to the Missouri Veterans Commission.
The total amount of funds transferred is $6,843,310, more than the first transfer in September of last year, which came to $2,135,510.
The transfer of the funds is required under the constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana that Missouri voters approved in 2018. A provision under the amendment, which is now known as Article XIV, requires “that fees and taxes collected by [Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services] for the medical marijuana program, less operational expenses, should be transferred to the [Missouri Veterans Commission] for health and care services for military veterans,” the agency said in a press release on Thursday.
The department said it has “collected fees related to facility and patient licensing,” and that “Article XIV states that medical marijuana sold in licensed dispensaries will be taxed at a rate of 4%.”
Article XIV states that the remainder of medical marijuana funds must go to the veterans commission “for health and care services for military veterans, including the following purposes: operations, maintenance and capital improvements of the Missouri veterans homes, the Missouri service officer’s program and other services for veterans approved by the commission, including, but not limited to, health care services, mental health services, drug rehabilitation services, housing assistance, job training, tuition assistance and housing assistance to prevent homelessness.”
Missouri voters overwhelmingly approved the amendment legalizing medical cannabis in the state, passing the measure by a margin of 66-34 percent.
The first dispensaries in the state opened their doors to customers in October of 2020.
Since then, the program in the Show Me State has boomed. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said earlier this month that the medical cannabis program has grown to include a little more than 140 dispensaries––still shy of the 192 required by the amendment––and the industry employs roughly 5,000 people.
By the end of July, the department said that sales for medical marijuana had eclipsed $91 million.
“The amendment that was voted on said that we should open the minimum number at least, which was 192 dispensaries,” said Lyndall Fraker, director of the section of medical marijuana with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. “As of today, we have 142 open. We’ve done the math, and based on the number of quantities that each patient can purchase each month, how much product it would take to serve the patient base, and we think we are going to be good for five or six years.”
At the time of the first transfer to the veterans commission last year, Fraker noted how facilities were just “getting up and running now, and the first testing laboratory [was] on track to be operational very soon.”
“We are confident that medical marijuana will become available for patients this month, and I am grateful for all of the hard work by so many that got us to this point,” Fraker said then.
On Thursday, Fraker expressed satisfaction with the latest transfer of funds to the veterans commission.
“Patients are being served by more than 140 dispensary facilities in Missouri now, and we are very pleased to see their sales revenue where it is,” said Fraker. “Ultimately, this is how we are able to provide much-needed funding for the veteran’s commission.”
Paul Kirchhoff, Missouri Veterans Commission (MVC) executive director, commented on how the funds will be utilized.
“MVC will use these funds for veterans’ health and safety initiatives designated in House Bill 8,” said Kirchhof. “A portion of these funds will also be used to complete the Missouri Veterans Cemetery – Jacksonville columbarium wall.”
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Author: Thomas Edward