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Never mind Missouri's weed shortage. The industry needs banks

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Marijuana at a medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana.
David McNew
Getty Images
Earlier this month, Kansas City voters approved a 3% marijuana sales tax on top of the existing 6% state tax. Mayor Quinton Lucas said tax revenue would go toward funding expungement programs.

It’s been just over two months since dispensaries started selling recreational marijuana in Missouri and despite shortages, business is booming. Now the industry must grapple with perhaps its biggest hurdle since legalization: banks.

Marijuana is in high demand in the Show-Me State.

Since early February, Missourians have spent over $230 million on marijuana, according to the Missouri Cannabis Trade Association.

MoCann Trade spokesperson Jack Cardetti told Up To Date on Thursday that high demand is contributing to the statewide supply shortage. Plus, state cultivators are only producing at about 40% capacity after overproducing for the medical market by 92,000 pounds in 2022.

“There was a severe oversupply so a lot of cultivators in Missouri shut off rooms and had yet to expand once the vote (to legalizerecreational marijuana) came down in November,” Cardetti said.

But he said the shortage is a short-term problem. The real issue? Banks.

“Things like going to a bank and getting a loan to build out a cultivation facility, that doesn’t happen,” he said.

Because weed is illegal at the federal level, both banks and businesses are under scrutiny to meet regulations. The federal government requires banks to inspect every marijuana facility and licensee, which banks say is a lot of work.

Missouri lawmakers are considering legislation that would allow state agencies, like the Department of Health and Senior Services, to share marijuana licensing information with banks and credit unions so they wouldn't need to duplicate efforts.

“A lot of the normalized banking and investing that would happen in any other billion dollar industry can't happen in the cannabis industry,” Cardetti said.

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
As Up To Date’s senior producer, I construct daily conversations that give our listeners context to the issues of our time. I strive to provide a platform that holds those in power accountable, while also spotlighting the voices of Kansas City’s creatives and visionaries that may otherwise go unheard. Email me at zach@kcur.org.
Claudia Brancart is an Up To Date producer for KCUR 89.3. She graduated from Pitzer College in Los Angeles where she majored in World Literature and Studio Art. You can reach her at claudiab@kcur.org.
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