Since the launch of the state’s medical marijuana program in October 2020, more than 138,000 Missourians — including 1,000 to 3,000 Franklin County residents — have received state-issued medical marijuana cards.
Although breakdowns of the ages and medical conditions of those patients needing medical marijuana are not yet available for this year, they are available in a report from the Department of Health and Senior Services outlining the medical marijuana program in Missouri with data from December 2019 to December 2020, when 68,510 cards were issued.
According to the report, of those Missourians receiving a medical marijuana card, 24.7 percent were individuals in their 30s; 20.23 percent were in their 40s; 17.97 percent were in their 50s; 16.93 percent were in their 60s; and 4.72 percent were over 70.
Missourians between the ages of 18 and 29 represent 15.13 percent of all cardholders, and individuals younger than 17 years old account for less than 1 percent of all cardholders.
An age breakdown of Franklin County cardholders was not available.
These numbers aren’t surprising to Jack Cardetti, spokesperson for the Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association.
“That’s really in line with what our members are seeing today,” Cardetti said. “Many of those patients really have medical conditions that, for years, they’ve been treating with prescription medications that they’re now talking with doctors about receiving medical marijuana for and hopefully avoiding some side effects.”
In order to purchase medical marijuana, patients must have a state-issued license, which Missouri residents qualify for if they have one of the approved conditions and have received certification from a licensed physician. Those conditions include Crohn’s disease, migraines, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, epilepsy and glaucoma.
According to the state health department’s report, 28 percent of all medical cannabis users in the state last year used it to combat chronic medical conditions; 17 percent for psychiatric disorders, 6 percent for migraines and 3 percent for terminal illnesses. An additional 30 percent used cannabis for physical and psychological dependence.
Cardetti said many patients, particularly in the undefined chronic conditions category, had previously been using prescription opioids, which can cause side effects including nausea, slowed heart rate, sleepiness, loss of consciousness, constipation and shallow breathing and can become addictive for many patients, according to the American Society of Anesthesiologists. But now, these patients, he said, have turned to medical marijuana to avoid some of these side effects.
“As we sit here today, medical marijuana is bringing relief to 140,000 Missourians,” Cardetti said. “We also have 5,000 workers employed by the industry.”
With multiple dispensaries opened, Franklin County has one of the highest concentration of medical marijuana cardholders in the state. There are dispensaries in Washington and St. Clair. A third dispensary in Pacific has not yet been given final approval to open.
A licensed manufacturing facility, Midwest Roots, has received permission to operate from the state at its location on Old Highway 100.
The breakdown of medical marijuana cardholders in adjoining counties were, in Warren County, between 501 and 1,000 residents; Gasconade County, fewer than 250 residents; Crawford County, between 251 and 500 residents; Washington County, fewer than 250 residents; Jefferson County, between 1,000 and 3,000 residents; St. Louis County, between 5,000 and 9,000 residents; city of St. Louis, between 1,000 and 3,000 residents; and St. Charles County, between 3,000 and 5,000 residents.
These numbers are as of December 5, 2020, which is the most recent data available from the state.
Medical marijuana, which was made legal in Missouri in 2018 when voters approved a ballot referendum in favor of legalization, was first sold in the state in October 2020.