Jonathan Robertson looks at products

Jonathan Robertson familiarizes himself with the products Feb. 18 at Taste Buds dispensary.

Soaring sales at St. Clair-based Taste Buds Dispensary has co-owner Larry Stiffelman forecasting $2 million in revenue in its first year of operation.

Open just five months, Taste Buds is averaging around $7,000 a day in sales, putting the medical marijuana retailer, at 1909 N. Service Road E., on a path to double or triple original revenue expectations, Stiffelman said.

According to Stiffelman’s estimates, Franklin County should receive $45,000 in revenue from the 2.25 percent county sales tax in the first year; St. Clair should receive $80,000 from the 4 percent city sales tax.

In Washington, Kathleen Beebe, human resources director and regional manager for Missouri Health & Wellness, said, “we’re on path to what we expected” following a slow start. Beebe would not disclose revenue for the medical marijuana dispensary, which opened Nov. 30 at 901 E. First St.

Stiffelman and Beebe said supply has improved with time, as has the customer base.

“There were a lot of reasons why people were behind, I think COVID being the primary reason,” Beebe said. “Our suppliers couldn’t get building supplies to finish out their buildings, so they were a little bit behind, and it’s taken a while for those harvests to come through.”

A marijuana plant takes about three to four months to progress from seed to sold, she said.

“We planned for having a lot of people and people standing in line and trying to manage that with social distancing, and it did not happen like that,” Beebe said. “It was not a major flood of people. I think what we’ve been experiencing is that people are slowly coming out.”

Beebe said Missouri Health & Wellness sees about 75 to 100 customers per day.

Stiffelman said 2,200 patients have registered for a medical marijuana card at his dispensary, which offers virtual doctor consultations. About half of them have been Franklin County residents. About one-quarter have been veterans or people designated as low income who sign up during twice-a-month sign-up drives.

“We really thought that we’d only have about 300 or 400 patients, and so that’s what we were projecting our business model to be,” he said. “The fact that we have 2,000 patients is almost mind-boggling.”

Across Missouri, the industry has generated $54 million in sales tax revenue since legalization, and about 115,000 patients have received medical marijuana cards, Beebe said.

Meanwhile, medical marijuana-infused product manufacturing facilities are preparing to open in the area. One is targeting a location at 5025 Old Highway 100 in Washington. That project has received a license, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. Its primary contact, Jack Coatar, did not respond to questions as of press time.

Another project, SLCC LLC at 1465 Hoelzer Court in Pacific, also has received a license. CEO Jason Kabbes wrote in an email that he could not answer The Missourian’s questions until after the Department of Health and Senior Services completes its commencement inspection.

Stiffelman said he is excited to see the manufacturers set up shop but expects a slow rollout of product given supply chain issues due to the impact of COVID-19.