Helping The Community

Union Medical Marijuana Dispensary owner Kim Clavenna, left, and niece Chloe Valleroy deliver food to the car of a Union Food Pantry client at a Saturday, May 9, cookout at the dispensary. Though the dispensary had its license denied by the state, owners made food for food pantry clients, as well as first responders and health care workers.

Even though the Union Medical Marijuana Dispensary had its license application denied, the owners are still giving back to the community.

Joe Clavenna, who owns the building at 95 Independence Dr. that would have housed the dispensary, and wife, Kim Clavenna, the applicant for the dispensary, joined with family members to smoke 71 chickens Saturday, May 9. That was enough for 280 meals, which were intended for families served by the Union Food Pantry.

“We usually get together on Mother’s Day to do exactly what you’re seeing,” Joe Clavenna said while turning chickens as barbecue smoke wafted through the parking lot of the building. “But we’re doing a couple hundred extra meals this year.”

While fewer than expected families picked up the meals, the Clavennas were able to give the remainder to first responders like the Union Police Department, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and the Union Fire Protection District. The meals included corn on the cob, baked potatoes and other items.

“My niece works at Mercy St. Louis, so they took some food there,” Joe Clavenna said after the event.

The Clavennas got help from other businesses, like Union City BBQ and Hagie’s Nineteen, which allowed them to use their smokers.

Though Joe Clavenna wanted the event to be about the food pantry, the dispensary is still awaiting an appeal of its license, he said.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) announced in January that it had issued a total of 192 licenses for medical marijuana dispensary facilities. Four Franklin County applicants received approval from the state.

The approved applicants in the county were Columbia Care MO, 1380 High St., Washington; Missouri Health & Wellness, 10 Franklin Ave., Washington; Green Gryphon, 6 Dell Centre Way, Union; and LSA314, 1909 N. Service Road, St. Clair.

Union Medical Marijuana Dispensary was one of 12 dispensaries that received denial applications in January.

Dispensaries are where medical marijuana is sold to people with approved cards.

Joe Clavenna said this week that the state went with the most experienced and well-funded dispensaries, even though they were funded by out-of-state companies in many cases.

“It seems right to us that the state of Missouri would give us local people an opportunity to compete in Missouri,” he said of his family’s business, located across Highway 47 from The Pasta House.

While they originally had an appeal date in April, the Union Medical Marijuana Dispensary will now have to wait until between Oct. 27 and Jan. 27 to have its case heard by the DHSS.

Joe Clavenna said the delay was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors, including a large number of appeals.

Medicinal marijuana was legalized in Missouri in November 2018 through a constitutional amendment approved by voters.

DHSS has been tasked with implementing the new law, which states Missouri will issue ID cards to patients who have approval from their doctor that allows patients or caregivers to grow up to six marijuana plants and purchase marijuana from a registered dispensary.

The state is required by the law to approve at least 60 commercial growers, 86 facilities that manufacture marijuana-infused products and 192 dispensary licenses.