Sales of adult-use marijuana in Missouri set a new monthly record in December, capping off total cannabis sales for all of 2023 amounting to more than $1.3 billion.
Recreational cannabis purchases last month totaled $106.5 million, shattering the state’s previous $98.7 million record set in July.
Since cannabis sales to adults 21 and older began in February of last year, Missouri has recorded nearly $1.04 billion in total adult-use sales.
The all-time total recorded cannabis sales in Missouri, including medical and adult-use sales, now sits at $1.94 billion, according to the most recent available data from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services’s Division of Cannabis Regulation.
Medical marijuana sales, meanwhile, have slowed over the year. They came in at $16.8 million in December—close to the lowest monthly amount in 2023 and far less than the $40.3 million in sales that dispensaries saw a year earlier.
As in many states, medical sales have slipped as adult-use stores open more widely. The number of enrolled patients and caregivers in Missouri’s medical marijuana system has also fallen during the state’s first year of legal sales to adults. As of last month there were 106,627 registered patients currently in the program—down from 204,165 a year earlier.
As the state approaches the first anniversary of legal adult-use sales, officials are still working to make accompanying changes to the criminal justice system. Earlier this month, state courts asked lawmakers for an additional $3.7 million to continue expunging past cannabis-related criminal records, noting that many older records are not digitized and require manual processing. Courts initially received $4.2 million to complete the process.
“From 1989 back, we’re going through every single criminal record to find out whether there’s something in there that might qualify,” said Greene County Circuit Clerk Bryan Feemster. “And it is, as you might imagine, very slow and tedious.”
“We have no information,” added Valerie Hartman, spokeswoman for the 16th Judicial Circuit Court, “nor an estimate on how many additional drug cases await our review.”
The law has already led to the expungement of more than 100,000 marijuana cases from court records.
Ahead of Missouri’s new legislative session, meanwhile, a Democratic lawmaker has pre-filed a bill that would prevent police from using the smell of marijuana as the sole basis of a warrantless vehicle or property search.
The one-page measure says that “the odor of marijuana alone shall not provide a law enforcement officer with probable cause to conduct a warrantless search of a motor vehicle, home, or other private property.”
Another measure, introduced by a pair of Republicans, is attempting to enshrine in state law a policy that cuts workers’ compensation awards in half for on-the-job injuries if the employee tests positive for marijuana use—regardless of whether the worker was responsible for the incident.
An annual report released by the Division of Cannabis Regulation earlier this month, meanwhile, found that more than 40 percent of the owners listed on applications for state’s social equity marijuana licenses issued in October were from outside Missouri.
“It doesn’t matter how you applied—whether you’re part of a group of multiple applications or a single application,” said Abigail Vivas, who oversees the state’s microbusiness program. “We are going to look at all the information to ensure that these are going to truly eligible individuals.”