If the near constant ringing of the phone at Missouri Health and Wellness’ cannabis dispensary is any indication, there will be scores of people lining up to make their first legal purchase of cannabis on Nov. 30 when the dispensary opens.
“Given how many people have been stopping by, emailing or calling us — I mean the phone has been ringing off the hook — I would anticipate that we are going to have a very large crowd of people,” said Kathleen Beebe, a regional manager with Missouri Health and Wellness.
Beebe said the dispensary, located at 10 Franklin Ave., has received “easily more than 100 phone calls” since the announcement was made weeks ago that the dispensary would be opening in the coming weeks.
The dispensary plans to officially open to customers at 10 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 30.
The dispensary will be open for normal hours following its grand opening on Monday. Its regular hours are: Monday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The dispensary is closed on Sunday.
Beebe said it has been exhilarating to be among the pioneers of the state’s cannabis industry and to help open one of the state’s first dispensaries.
When the Washington dispensary opens next week, it will be the seventh dispensary to open in Missouri, according to previous reporting by The Missourian.
Two St. Louis County dispensaries — in Ellisville and in Manchester — became the first in the state to sell medical cannabis in mid-October. A third dispensary later opened in Lee’s Summit.
A fourth dispensary opened in Springfield on Election Day. The state’s fifth dispensary opened earlier this month in St. Peter’s, while the state’s sixth dispensary opened in Mexico on Saturday, Nov. 21.
When Washington’s dispensary becomes the seventh dispensary to open in the state, it would be the closest to urban centers like Columbia, Rolla and Jefferson City, as well as communities south of St. Louis, such as Cape Girardeau.
The dispensaries that have opened are currently selling only dried smokable flower due to production delays in the state for other products, such as edibles, tinctures, concentrates or topicals.
Given the limited product selection, Beebe said she and other dispensary officials are encouraging customers, referred to as patients, to check the dispensary’s website, mhwdispensaries.com, for updates.
“They can look to see if we sell out,” Beebe said. The company is also active on social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Beebe said many of those calling with questions about when the dispensary will open are callers from outside of the Rhineland region, which encompasses southern Warren County and all of Gasconade and Franklin counties.
Taste Buds, a St. Clair-based medical use cannabis dispensary, plans to open this winter, according to the dispensary’s Facebook page.
“We are telling everyone to come prepared for possible lines. If the lines get really long, we will be taking names and encouraging people to go and visit beautiful Washington until we call them,” Beebe said. “While they are in line, we will do our best to make sure that everyone adheres to the COVID-19 protocols. We will also be limiting the number of people in the waiting room area of the dispensary.”
Dispensary officials are also encouraging customers coming to the dispensary on opening day to be prepared to park off-site and walk to the dispensary, to bring their state-issued government photo ID and medical use cannabis patient card, and cash to make the purchase. The dispensary will have a ATM available.
Once inside the dispensary, Beebe said customers will be asked to present their medical cannabis card and a valid photo ID, and to complete a patient in-take form. Once that form is completed, customers will be greeted by a sales clerk, known as wellness specialist, and a consultant who will help the customer select their purchases and answer any questions they may have.
The dispensary opening in the community created 19 jobs, including 15 wellness specialists and four managers.
“We have completed the hiring process for this particular location, but we will certainly continue to take resumes and applications to keep on file as we look to open our other locations,” Beebe said. Missouri Health and Wellness has received licenses to open dispensaries in Jefferson City, Belton, Sedalia and Kirksville.
Beebe said, “We all feel very honored to have the opportunity to bring relief to people who have tried other treatments without success. ... To be one of the state’s first dispensaries and to open it in Washington is just very exciting.”