Missouri’s Recreational Cannabis Industry: Rapid Growth and Potential Challenges

1.9 min readPublished On: April 25th, 2023By

LOS ANGELES– Missouri’s decision to legalize recreational cannabis last year has led to an impressive surge in job growth in the industry, with the number of active licenses rising from 9,800 in October to over 14,000 in March, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. However, concerns are beginning to emerge as labor needs appear to be slowing down.

While the fast-paced growth has undoubtedly been beneficial for the state’s economy, some experts have voiced worries about market saturation. Glenn MacDonald, an economist from Washington University, has expressed concerns that the market’s rapid growth may not be sustainable. “I would think this market’s going to be pretty saturated, pretty quickly. I don’t even know if you could make money now, opening a place,” MacDonald warned.

Despite concerns, the industry’s growth has been remarkable. Businesses have been hiring workers for various positions, including agriculture, processing, retail, and administrative roles, and the trend mirrors that observed in Illinois after it legalized recreational cannabis.

For instance, Viola STL has opened two retail locations in St. Louis, employing 32 people between them, with plans to expand to 50 over the summer. Rock Hill-based retailer and manufacturer Proper Cannabis has hired 76 people so far this year and received over 100 applicants for its summer internship program.

However, some companies are now shifting from hiring large numbers of employees to adding workers as needed, which suggests a slowing pace of growth in the near future.

It is still unclear how the market will evolve and whether saturation will become a significant issue. Cultivators have struggled to meet overwhelming demand, with reports of a shortage looming. Nonetheless, with sales reaching $102.9 million in the first month alone, the state is on pace to become a billion-dollar market in 2024.

While the state is expected to employ between 30,000 and 50,000 workers in the cannabis sector, a bill requiring fingerprinting as part of background checks for all employees is expected to slow down hiring. The Missouri Independent reports that the measure has already cleared the state Senate and is anticipated to pass in the House.

There is still potential for expansion in areas such as health care applications, and the state Department of Health and Senior Services plans to begin accepting applications for smaller cannabis “microbusinesses” in late July, with winners selected in a lottery in October, according to the Post-Dispatch.

About the Author: News Team

Newsteam at Highly Capitalized are some of the most experienced writers in cannabis and psychedelics business & finance. We cover capital markets, finance, branding, marketing and everything important in between. Most of all, we follow the money.

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