On a chilly morning in Manchester, Missouri, history was made at a few minutes after 8 a.m. The Saturday morning traffic was almost non-existent, and while the line of cars at Starbucks was a non-event, the line outside of the N’Bliss dispensary in Manchester was an unusual sight at 7:20 am.
Those who follow Missouri’s medical marijuana program and its progress were active on social media from the moment the announcement was made Friday that N’Bliss would be the first retail location in Missouri to sell medical cannabis to patients. The line outside of the dispensary had several people hailing from nearby towns in St. Louis County, as well as some from the further out St. Charles County, and even one lone trooper who drove in from Springfield this morning to get his place in line.
Last night, the online menus at N’Bliss were featuring 2 strains of THC flower at the Manchester location, and by 7 a.m. this morning, the count was up to five strains. Flower available today is a product of Solhaus, of Perryville, and the strains ranged from around 10% THC to just under 20% THC with multiple sizes available, including a One Ounce Sampler – for $350 patients could mix and match 1/8 oz varieties or purchase 1/8ths individually.
Nirvana CEO Brad Goette was in high spirits and made a point to thank everyone in line for coming and waiting for the store to open at 9 a.m., and his always affable personality was well received by those waiting. The dispensary was beautifully lit, clean, and organized and the staff, including Rebecca Reardon, head of marketing for the brand, was chatting up those waiting in line while simultaneously directing media and visitors with a smile. The staff, who had to deal with the throngs of those in the media, were all good-natured and ready to kick things off. While we could talk about the countless speculations and criticism from those on socials, the grumbling about strains and price, that’s not what today was about in Missouri – nor is it what the future of the MMJ program is about.
Today was about a historic moment – the first retail sale of legal medical marijuana to a patient, but not just any patient. Larry Simpson is where this moment gets its meaning. Simpson made the first purchase of legal medical cannabis in a Missouri dispensary. Let’s be clear – Simpson is not a stoner. In fact, never once in his long life has he ever smoked pot, or weed, or ganja, or any of the other slang terms used to describe cannabis. He was diagnosed with stomach cancer and as it ravaged his body, prevented him from having an appetite, and essentially kicked his ass at every turn, he took the leap to see if medical cannabis could help him. With a carefully monitored and thoughtfully crafted treatment plan, Simpson has been on a treatment plan that included THC and CBD.
Said Chad Huelsman, Assistant GM of N’Bliss in Manchester, “Larry made it through all of the nightmares of cancer and used cannabis to get his appetite back, treat his pain, and not once has he been forced to use narcotic prescription pain medication.”
Simpson and his wife were invited to be at N’Bliss and make the first purchase of medical cannabis for his treatment before the crowds were let in. Despite the ten or so cameras and microphones from the press documenting every step of the transaction, the Simpsons remained kind and cheerful. To hear him talk to Huelsman about his symptoms, what has worked well, and peruse the available medicine available today at N’Bliss, it was hard not to feel the importance of the moment. After two years of gathering signatures, lobbyists, advocates, and a record voter turnout to legalize medical marijuana for patients – the moment had arrived and it was hard not to feel a bit of surrealism to see all of that effort and hard work of so many culminate in a patient who needs medicine have the legal right and ability to purchase it.
Celebrations will most certainly be in order for the teams at the N’Bliss Manchester and Ellisville locations after they close tonight. The stat is all celebrating what has finally come to pass in our state – each in their own way. Rather than focusing on the inevitable supply chain shortage that will happen in these first few weeks of open dispensaries, rather than pointing fingers and bad-mouthing license holders, remembering the long road to legalization and being thankful for the fact that patients like Simpson can legally purchase lab-tested medicine that can truly bring them relief and without worry or fear of retribution from a decades-long prohibition.
The Show-Me state is officially operational – in record time compared to most rollouts – and patients have the right and the ability to purchase medicine – and that’s what using our voices to vote in 2018 was all about.
Let’s celebrate today, Missouri.