By Barry Dalton
In some other states, such as Oklahoma, just about anyone can apply for a medical marijuana grow license and start growing. Missouri has taken a different route instead opting to highly regulate both cultivators and dispensaries.
Missouri has granted 60 licenses for cultivation sites, including two in Vandalia, but so far only 17 are operational so far. At the same time, nearly 55 dispensaries have opened in the state since last October. This has led to high prices in states like Missouri and Illinois.
“Right now, the market price is astronomical,” said Chad Burchik, director of cultivation for 1913 Holdings in Vandalia. “Prices are inflated and quality is low. We are here to change that. Honestly, there are some people who may be taking advantage of the situation.”
Burchik admits that he will not be able to directly control pricing because 1913 is a wholesaler not a retailer, but he says he controls which dispensaries to work with.
“We’re hoping to provide a quality product at a reasonable price, but then again, I can’t make them sell it for a certain price,” Burchik continued. “But I can also say, ‘hey, if you don’t sell it for a certain price, we don’t do business.’ We’re looking right now to make relationships with some dispensaries that are in it for the right reasons.”
Burchik adds that he and other cultivators are in the business to make a profit, but he doesn’t want to work with dispensaries that take advantage of customers. Markup right now, he says, is about 85 percent.
“I don’t want them taking advantage of people with my product by selling an eighth of an ounce for $75 when you can go to a state like Oklahoma and get it for $24 to $36,” Burchik said. “I understand supply and demand and that our prices in Missouri will eventually level out. Still I would like to see more companies in Missouri show compassion for the people as we are selling medicine.”
Jay Patel, owner of Green Relief in Mexico, agrees that product shortages do inflate pricing but he says that the existing cultivators are also responsible.
“The opening of the Vandalia cultivators, and other cultivators, will help with supply and price,” said Patel. “That’s one of the biggest issues right now–is there’s a very limited number of cultivators, so price is whatever they say it is, and it’s steep.”