BENTON PARK – If you’re looking to grow or sell marijuana in the state of Missouri and you haven’t already applied for a license from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, you’ll have to sit this round out.
The DHSS received more than 2,100 online applications this past week from hopefuls looking to get licenses for cultivation for the state’s medical marijuana program. At $6,000 per non-refundable application, Missouri collected more than $13 million in application fees.
Applications have to be approved or denied within 150 days of the application submission date.
But in the meantime, patients looking to join the state’s medical marijuana program will have to walk no further than to Cherokee Street.
Educated Alternative is a Medical Marijuana Advocacy Center situated in the Cherokee Street Antique District. Operating as a nonprofit, the center has partnered with Primero Cannabis Clinic, 2317 Cherokee St., to provide state compliant certifications for patients.
“Our portion of it is getting people their certification so that they can start growing for themselves. Missouri allows you to have six plants in three stages per person,” said Jose Gonzalez, executive director of Educated Alternative.
The center was established to address issues such as a lack of education and funds, and it works to educate patients through workshops and seminars.
The group’s next event is a workshop on Tuesday, Aug. 27th, at 7 p.m., called “Kids and Cannabis: Starting the Conversation.” The workshop aims to teach parents how to have age-appropriate conversations about medical marijuana with their children.
“This is a place that has a huge need, not only for the financial portion of it but for the educational portion,” Gonzalez said, speaking of the new Cherokee Street location.
Gonzalez said that since his group began working at the site in June, his staff had already helped nearly 100 patients become certified.
He said it was a mixed crowd. Some patients want to learn how to grow the plant for themselves, while others have decided to get certified and wait for dispensaries to open.
“If somebody comes in and they have one of the conditions that we’re allowed to do that for, then we will sit them down in the back with the doctor, [who’s] here four to five days a week, so basically you can’t miss him.”
Some qualifying conditions to become certified for medical marijuana include cancer, epilepsy, chronic pain and any terminal illness.
Gonzalez said that what set his clinic apart from others was patient aftercare. Not only do patients receive application assistance, there is also a one-one-one followup at no cost to the patient.
“If you are on Social Security Disability or a veteran and you cannot afford it, the cost to do anything, we’ll be happy to lower the cost to get you to where you can afford it. Or if you just can’t afford it altogether, we’ll do the doctor certification for free,” Gonzalez said.
“That is what our goal is – to make sure that the community here is educated and funded and able to get to proper medicine.”
Educated Alternative is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. More information is available at educatedalternative.org