Despite operational hiccups stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain shortages, Missouri Health & Wellness is working quickly to open five dispensary locations in the state’s medical cannabis market, which officially launched its first sales in October.
The company holds five retail licenses, which is the maximum number of licenses that any one company can have in Missouri’s market. Missouri Health & Wellness opened its first location in Washington at the end of November, and its second location in Sedalia just before Christmas. The company then opened a third dispensary in the state’s capital, Jefferson City, on Jan. 25. Now, Missouri Health & Wellness has its sights set on its final two stores in Kirksville and Belton, which will open by the end of the winter.
Photos courtesy of Missouri Health & WellnessMissouri Health and Wellness: Washington, Mo.
The company is standing up its locations quickly, despite Missouri’s medical program experiencing delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Missouri Health & Wellness HR Director and Regional Manager Kathleen Beebe says it took a year and a half for the state’s first dispensaries to open after the state began issuing patient ID cards, but there has been a steady increase in the number of patients enrolling in the program.
“What’s most exciting is when you have patients walking in the door for the first time and you hear about … what they’ve been dealing with, and they’re so excited to have another option,” Beebe tells Cannabis Business Times and Cannabis Dispensary.
Most of Missouri Health & Wellness’ patients are 60 years old and older, she says, and many are first-time cannabis consumers who are frustrated with the results of traditional medicine.
“I think that’s the No. 1 thing that excites me most about this industry, is that we are bringing some relief to people,” Beebe says.
The company also strives to create a diverse and inclusive culture, she adds, where employees feel valued and can make meaningful contributions to the company and the patients they serve.
Missouri Health & Wellness’ budtenders (called “wellness specialists”) go through a robust training program to ensure they can have educated conversations with patients about cannabis, Beebe says.
As with many new markets, Missouri’s medical cannabis industry is currently experiencing supply chain shortages, especially in the wake of the ongoing pandemic, which Beebe says has delayed the launch of many cultivators and manufacturers.
“They’re still under construction,” she says. “We’re starting to now see more and more of them entering the market, but we just had our first manufacturer pass their final inspection maybe a few weeks ago now. Obviously, it takes a little while for them to ramp up their production.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has also further restricted Missouri Health & Wellness’ ability to promote itself within the communities it serves, as in-person, patient-facing events have been on hold. Traditional marketing channels, such as social media, are also challenging for the industry due to the various platforms’ restrictions on cannabis.
“Social media doesn’t really like us to talk too much about cannabis, so it limits what we’re