After a long road riddled with delays due to COVID-19 and state regulations, Phelps County will open its first dispensary May 24.
Nature's Health and Wellness, LLC is a Missouri company formed by Missouri residents, according to a press release from Feb. 4. The business is named Trinity and will operate at 1421 Forum Drive in Rolla. Hours of operation are 10 am. until 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday. A grand opening celebration will be planned at a later date.
“Our company consists of a unique combination of Missouri residents with deep ties to the communities where we plan to operate, and experienced medical marijuana experts, all with a shared passion for medical marijuana and patient care,” the press release shared.
The press release detailed plans for its licensed dispensary locations in Rolla, St. James, and Salem. The company was initially the lone entity to receive dispensary licenses in either Dent County or Phelps County.
Missouri voters approved Amendment 2 by 65.5 percent in November of 2018. Medical marijuana dispensary sales began Oct. 16, 2020. As of late April, sales totaled $35,679,927.
From June 2019 through March 2021, 122,523 patient applications have been submitted to the Department of Health and Senior Services. Phelps County was listed in the data range of 501 to 1,000 patients in the license distribution.
The medical marijuana-related licenses, including dispensaries, were awarded by DHSS following an extensive application process and blind scoring for applicants.
Nature's Health and Wellness General Manager Adam Stacey resides in Springfield. The LLC will do business as Trinity in each of the three locations.
In spring of 2019 the application began for the group, who will partner to bring the dispensaries to the area. A lot of groundwork had to be completed before the application could commence. Plans for security at the facility, financial reviews and planned locations are just part of the extensive work. Proposed location was one of the trickiest obstacles as cities can set regulations for distance away from city parks, existing elementary or secondary schools, daycares, or churches.
Other obstacles were presented due to COVID-19 in mid-spring of 2020. As entities were awarded licensing, delays in construction and materials for remodeled or new structures began to occur. Cultivation facilities saw delays with growth. DHSS saw delays in manpower due to quarantines and shutdowns.
This ultimately led to a delay from the top, down. Before a product comes to a dispensary for the sale to patients, it follows a comprehensive testing schedule.
Referred to as seed-to-sale tracking, all products in Missouri dispensaries must be 100 percent produced in Missouri. The tracking is under the directive of Missouri’s Medical Marijuana Regulatory Program (MMRP).
Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting & Compliance (METRC) will assist with this progression. According to www.metrc.com/Missouri, Metrc is an integrated system that allows for real-time tracking and tracing of marijuana plants and products. Licensees attach unique, serialized tags to every plant or wholesale package. These tags feature readable text, barcodes, and RFID chips to uniquely identify each plant and package physically and in the online platform. Cultivators, manufacturers, and dispensaries then enter information related to those plants and packages, including weight, transfer of custody, and test results in an online software platform. That information is available to the individual licensee and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
A product is grown by a licensed cultivator, then sent to a licensed testing facility. There are under a dozen testing facilities in the state who have obtained a license, approximately five are operational at this time, according to Stacey.
From the testing facility, a licensed transporter will deliver products to the dispensary.
When a patient enters one of the Trinity dispensaries, they must present a government-issued ID and a medical marijuana card. From there, they are allowed to enter the sales floor. Sales associates referred to as budtenders will assist the patients with a purchase. The only products available on the floor are non-regulated products. Budtenders will pull regulated products from inventory, as they are ordered by patients from a kiosk or personally through the associate.
Budtenders can offer consultation on products to patients who are new to medical marijuana.
Metrc tracks the amount purchased by each patient, and is shared on the state-wide database to ensure patients cannot obtain more than the recommended dosages per month.
Around 30 jobs in Rolla, St. James and Salem are expected to be created in the first year, as around 10 employees will be hired at each of the facilities.
The Rolla dispensary currently has an indeed.com listing for the positions available.
One of the driving forces behind the original amendment passed in 2018 was the funding going to veteran organizations. In addition to sales tax, a four percent tax on retail sales at each dispensary in Missouri is earmarked for veterans organizations.
Stacey is a U.S. Marine veteran and all of those involved with Trinity hope to assist veterans, both with jobs and by the sales funding additional programming for veterans.
“We look forward to the opportunity to enhance the health and wellness of these communities by providing approved patient’s access to clean, lab-tested, and regulated medical marijuana products,” said the press release from Trinity.
Local partners of the business are Wayna Woolman and Cathy Simpson, both of Salem.
Simpson shared her desire to help members of the community where she was raised.
“We were at the dinner table after the legislation passed. I said ‘I want to help people,’ and I feel I am blessed to be able to do it,” she shared.
Local contractors and construction companies have provided work on all three locations of Trinity.
With the opioid epidemic sweeping the country, opioid overdose deaths in Missouri were up more than 30 percent in 2020. Many people see medical marijuana as a safer alternative to prescription drugs that can often fall into the wrong hands.
“There is a physical and psychological dependency that can occur after prescription drugs are used for chronic pain or PTSD, or other illnesses or ailments,” said Simpson. The group bringing medical marijuana to Dent and Phelps counties hopes to see the opioid dependency decrease.
Specific dispensary locations in Dent County and Phelps County are:
• 1421 Forum Drive in Rolla
• 803 West Scenic Rivers Blvd Suite A in Salem
• 205 State Route B in St. James
How to apply
Researchers continue to study medical marijuana and how it may treat or ease a number of conditions including: Alzheimer's disease, Appetite loss, Cancer, Crohn's disease, Diseases effecting the immune system like HIV/AIDS or Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Eating disorders, Epilepsy, Glaucoma, Mental health conditions like schizophrenia and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Multiple sclerosis, Muscle spasms, Nausea, Pain, Seizures, and a multitude of others.
Patient applications are available online for an ID card. Some of the requested information includes, but is not limited to, name, date of birth, social security number, proof of Missouri residency, physician certification form which must be obtained no more than 30 days prior to the time a patient submits the application, and a recent photo of the qualifying patient.
Per Article XIV of the Missouri Constitution, a qualifying medical condition is, cancer; epilepsy; glaucoma; intractable migraines unresponsive to other treatment; a chronic medical condition that causes severe, persistent pain or persistent muscle spasms, including but not limited to those associated with multiple sclerosis, seizures, Parkinson’s disease, and Tourette’s syndrome; debilitating psychiatric disorders, including, but not limited to, post-traumatic stress order, if diagnosed by a state licensed psychiatrist; human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome; a chronic medical condition that is normally treated with a prescription medication that could lead to physical or psychological dependence, when a physician determines that medical use of marijuana could be effective in treating that condition and would serve as a safer alternative to the prescription medication; a terminal illness, in the professional judgment of a physician; among other conditions as outlined by DHSS.
To find out more on Trinity and its goods and services visit trinitymissouri.com. The site will be active in conjunction with the grand opening.