Missouri's Medical Marijuana Program Directs $5 Million to Veterans Fund

click to enlarge To date, the Missouri medical marijuana program has brought in more than $335 million in sales. - LEAH SHAFFER
To date, the Missouri medical marijuana program has brought in more than $335 million in sales.

Satisfied stoners, pot-loving patients and enterprising entrepreneurs aren't the only ones celebrating the success of Missouri's decision to legalize medical marijuana — add to that list the state's many military veterans.

According to information from the Missouri Department of Senior Services, some $5 million has been transferred this spring from the state's medical marijuana program to the Missouri Veterans Commission, a state agency that provides aid to veterans and their families. This marks the third such transfer of funds into MVC's coffers since the program got up and running, bringing the total haul to $13,978,820 so far.

“Today, patients are being served by more than 180 dispensary facilities in Missouri — a 20 percent increase from last fall,” Lyndall Fraker, director of the DHSS Section of Medical Marijuana Regulation, says in a statement. “We are happy to see the veterans served by MVC continue to benefit from these contributions.”

The arrangement traces its roots back to the Constitutional Amendment that legalized medical marijuana in Missouri back in November 2018. A provision in the amendment, now known as Article XIV, requires that some taxes and fees that the medical marijuana industry brings in be used for health and care services for military veterans.

That tax comes at a rate of 4 percent, which adds up quickly, considering the industry has raked in more than $335 million in sales since dispensaries began operation in October 2020.

That number is expected to climb rapidly, as well. April set a new record in sales in the state, bringing in some $36.76 million, with $2.85 million of that coming in on the April 20 unofficial cannabis holiday alone, marking a new one-day record. And recent projections from the Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association expect that sales will top a staggering $360 million this year.

If that's good news for those who secured licenses to grow and sell cannabis in Missouri (it surely is), it's great news for the veterans who will have greater access to care and health services due to the cut of the loot the MVC receives.

Paul Kirchhoff, executive director of Missouri Veterans Commission, confirms as much. "MVC will use these new funds for increasing support for Missouri veterans and veteran operations across seven facilities statewide," he says.

The first transfer of funds, executed in the fall of 2020, totaled $2.1 million. In 2021, the program directed $6.8 million to the MVC. The next transfer will come in the fall.

About The Author

Daniel Hill

Daniel Hill is editor at large for the Riverfront Times and he demands to be taken seriously, despite all evidence to the contrary. Follow him on Twitter at @rftmusic.
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