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What you should know about medical marijuana in Missouri: How to get a card, what are the qualifiers and more.

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The era of retail cannabis in Missouri is about to begin.

Late Friday, the Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association, or MoCannTrade, announced that the first legal medical marijuana sales in Missouri would take place at two St. Louis County dispensaries beginning Saturday.

The trade association said on Twitter that N’Bliss Cannabis stores in Ellisville and Manchester would open at 9 a.m.

Earlier in the week, MoCannTrade invited journalists to tour the N’Bliss dispensaries.

MoCannTrade tweeted information from N’Bliss that advised patients to bring their government ID along with their Missouri medical marijuana cards and that they must pay in cash or by debit card. Credit cards can’t be accepted because cannabis is federally illegal.

Store capacity is limited due to St. Louis County COVID-19 ordinances, N’Bliss said, so lines will be long. Masks are required and the store will take temperatures before patients can enter the building.

Only cannabis flower will be available, N’Bliss said, with a one-ounce purchase limit per patient. Edibles and other products will be available “over time.”

When will a Springfield dispensary open?

As the News-Leader reported last month, N’Bliss along with Springfield-based Old Route 66 Wellness and Missouri Health & Wellness in the eastern part of the state were vying to be the first Missouri dispensary to open their doors for patient marijuana sales.

“Happy for them,” John Lopez, Old Route 66 owner, told the News-Leader by text message as the news began to spread. “They worked hard too and beat us to the punch but it’s all about the patients and happy someone is open! We can’t comment on when we will be open. We are waiting on test results and prices.”

N’Bliss did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent late Friday.

Lawful medical cannabis is likely to be significantly more costly in Missouri than underground-market weed or marijuana bought from dispensaries in other legal cannabis states, because the industry is in its early stages. Only a handful of licensed cultivators are active.

Recently one dispensary owner in southwest Missouri told the News-Leader the wholesale cost of cannabis flower could be $4,000 per pound, more than double the spot index price of $1,647 reported by Cannabis Benchmarks on Friday.

On Friday evening the website of N’Bliss’s Manchester store listed Dragon OG, a hybrid sativa-indica flower, for sale at $59.99 per 3.5-gram portion, or roughly 1/8-ounce. The Ellisville location’s website listed an indica hybrid, Critical Mass, at the same price per portion.

Missouri voters approved a medical marijuana amendment to the state constitution in 2018. Hundreds of applicants for commercial marijuana business permits continue to appeal the denials issued by the state health department.

More than 2,200 applications came in last year; in December and January, state authorities granted roughly 370 licenses for dispensaries, cultivation, manufacturing, transport and testing.

News-Leader reporter Gregory Holman has been following Missouri medical cannabis news since October 2018. Email news tips to gholman@gannett.com and consider supporting vital local journalism by subscribing.

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