Missouri voters say yes to an adult-use marijuana market

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(This story and headline have been updated to note that Missouri’s adult-use marijuana ballot measure was projected to win by major news outlets.)

A constitutional amendment to legalize adult-use marijuana was too close to call for much of the election, but early Wednesday it was declared victorious by major news outlets.

Legalization advocates declared an outright victory late Tuesday, and the amendment eventually won by about 6 percentage points.

The successful Amendment 3 lays the groundwork for an adult-use market in the conservative midwestern state.

First-year sales of an adult-use marijuana market could reach up to $550 million, according to MJBizDaily estimates, with fourth-year sales projected from $800 million to $900 million.

Cannabis advocacy group NORML released a statement late Tuesday with the victory apparently in hand.

NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said that “Missourians have clearly demonstrated that support for ending prohibition isn’t relegated to the coasts or deep blue states, but that it is a common-sense position that resonates with all Americans.”

Where cannabis is legal in the U.S.

According to Ryan Smith, co-founder and CEO of LeafLink, a New York-based cannabis wholesale platform that operates in Missouri, “The passage of Missouri’s Amendment 3 will usher in a new era of cannabis for Missourians.

“Amendment 3 ... will also open up new economic development opportunities across the state,” Smith told MJBizDaily via email.

The state legalized medical marijuana in 2018, and its regulated medical marijuana market didn't launch until October 2020.

But MMJ has run up against several legal obstacles in Missouri.

While the state has allocated more than 75% of its allowable cultivation licenses and 98% of retail licenses, Missouri's regulatory agencies have come under fire for residency requirements and trying to keep marijuana business applications sealed from unsuccessful applicants.

That said, dispensaries in Missouri have sold more than $529 million worth of medical marijuana, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

“We’re optimistic that legalizing recreational use will further benefit the market,” LeafLink's Smith said.

Kate Lavin can be reached at kate.lavin@mjbizdaily.com.