'Is it actual weed?' First weekend of recreational pot sales open in Missouri to joy and exuberance
Published in Business News
ST. LOUIS — Steve Campbell was ready with a joke.
Campbell was the first person at the Good Day Farm marijuana dispensary in the Central West End on the first day recreational-use marijuana was sold in Missouri.
He walked through the door to applause from staff. But Campbell, 67, had a confused look on his face. "This isn't St. Louis Bread Co.?" he asked.
"I did not believe this day would ever come," Campbell said later. "I go back a long way, when it was very illegal and very scary, and people went to jail for a couple of joints."
The days of such antics are over. This is the opening weekend for recreational marijuana sales in Missouri. On Friday, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services issued licenses to 207 dispensaries across the state to legally sell cannabis to anyone over the age of 21. Licenses were also issued to 72 manufacturers and 56 cultivation facilities.
Licenses were only given to dispensaries, manufacturers and facilities already selling and making products for medical-use customers. The new legalization was part of Amendment 3, which Missouri voters passed in November.
Anticipation for the change was high. Marwa Babiker, operations manager at ViolaSTL in Downtown West, said an older man — she estimated he was about 90 — stopped in earlier in the week to ask if they were selling recreational-use pot.
Told it was not yet available, he returned at 11:30 a.m. Friday to ask again. The store had been issued a license by then, but it was not open for business. He returned again at noon, when they opened, to make his purchase.
The Health Department had given every indication that the licenses would not be issued until Monday. Most customers were confused to learn that recreational-use cannabis would actually be available beginning Friday, although many dispensaries had an inkling something might be up.
"We kind of figured," said Chad Huelsman, manager of an N'Bliss dispensary near Manchester in unincorporated St. Louis County. "They had pushed it to the last minute, not telling anyone.
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