Missouri Spends $17 Million In Marijuana Revenue To Fund Veterans Services, Drug Treatment And Legal Aid

Missouri Spends $17 Million In Marijuana Revenue To Fund Veterans Services, Drug Treatment And Legal Aid

Nearly $17 million in Missouri cannabis sales revenue is being routed to programs in the state aimed at veterans health, drug treatment and legal aid.

Officials at Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) announced the agency transferred $13 million from the state’s medical marijuana program to the Missouri Veterans Commission, which will be used to provide health care and other service to military veterans and their families.

Separately, DHSS said it transferred nearly $4 million ($3,836,919) to agencies from the state’s adult-use cannabis program, which Missouri voters legalized at the polls last November. Three agencies each received $1,278,973: the Veterans Commission to fund health care and other services for military veterans and their dependent families, the state public defender’s office for legal assistance for low-income people and DHSS itself to increase access to drug treatment, overdose prevention and recovery services.

“It’s incredible that Missouri voters passed the adult use amendment less than one year ago, and we are now starting to see the financial impact the program’s success will have on multiple organizations and the Missourians they serve,” Amy Moore, director of DHSS’s Division of Cannabis Regulation, said in a statement Tuesday that was included with the agency announcement.

Paul Kirchhoff, executive director of the Missouri Veterans Commission, said the funds “will help MVC continue to support the existing infrastructure of our seven Veterans Homes.”

The latest payments brings the total amount of veterans funds transferred under the program to nearly $40 million ($39,978,820) since Missouri launched its medical marijuana program in 2018. Dispensary sales began two years later, in 2020. Under the law, medical marijuana products sold at licensed dispensaries are taxed by the state at a rate of 4 percent, and a provision requires that any money collected that exceeds the cost of administering the program be disbursed to the Veterans Commission.

Meanwhile, Missouri marijuana regulators are embroiled in a number of controversial issues unfolding in the newly legal market. Just this week, a state lawmaker urged an investigation into “egregious exploitation” of the state’s social equity licensing process for cannabis businesses following local news reports about a company that recruited equity license applicants on Craigslist and involved them in deals from which they wouldn’t see the profits. The state NAACP has threatened to sue over the dispute.

Marijuana businesses are also suing over new cannabis taxes that took effect in October, arguing that state and local tax rates cannot be combined or “stacked” under state law.

State regulators have also recalled nearly 63,000 cannabis products that allegedly used out-of-state hemp to produce THC concentrate. DHSS said in early October that if a licensee wishes to destroy those products, there’s now a legal pathway to do so. Meanwhile, a hearing on the recall was delayed until December.

Regulators also recently announced the winners of a microbusiness license lottery.

Outside of regulatory issues, Missouri colleges have been offering additional courses on marijuana to prepare students for careers in the legal cannabis industry. Truman State University, in Kirksville, recently launched a bachelor’s degree program in cannabis and natural medicines. While most classes are online, some offer hands-on instruction using hemp plants.

A map published by the U.S. Census Bureau in recent weeks tracks the proportion of each state’s revenue that’s made up by marijuana tax revenue. The most recent data available indicate Missouri is in the middle of the pack among legal cannabis states, with marijuana revenue accounting for just a hair under 1 percent (0.92 percent) of all state income.

Late last month the agency published a report showing that legal cannabis states had collected more than $5.7 billion in marijuana tax revenue over an 18-month period, a figure it intends to update quarterly going forward. Census also recently updated its survey of private businesses to better capture marijuana-related economic activity.

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