COLUMBIA, Mo, - Medical marijuana is set to create hundreds of jobs across the Show Me State.
But the industry is sure to be tightly regulated.
"Some people, when they think about the cannabis industry, they kind of glamorize it," said Scott Abbott, CEO of HCI Alternatives.
"When you're here, it's very strict. All of your movements are controlled. You're under camera all day long, except in the bathroom."
Abbott, who is also a former Illinois State Police colonel, said regulations are taken seriously.
"We get inspected by (the Department of) Agriculture, but we also get inspected by the Illinois State Police. They do regulatory components as well as about those (seed-to-sale) same processes," Abbott said.
According to the Missouri Deptartment of Health and Senior Services website, as of Feb. 7, 418 prefiled application forms and fees totaling $3.02 have been received by DHSS.
Here's a breakdown of that information:
- 128 Cultivation Facilities
- 226 Dispensary Facilities
- 64 Medical Marijuana-infused Manufacturing Facilities.
DHSS officials said the majority of that $3.02 million will go toward jobs in the department. Those jobs will be posted at mocareers.mo.gov starting Feb 22.
Health department officials said the jobs will include an attorney, regional Health and Senior Services Department managers, health facility consultants, administrative office support assistants, regional employees who would process applications for facilities and patients, inspectors and information technology technicians.
Abbott said before medical marijuana business looks to hire employees for the everyday operations, the fields of construction, banking, security and IT have to be considered.
"That perpetuates as you're building out. You're doing more construction. You're putting more lighting (in). But there's also a maintenance side to all that, as well. So, from an industry standpoint, there's a great deal of jobs that will be created from this," Abbott said.
HCI Alternatives owns two dispensaries and one cultivation facilitiy. Abbott said that, between those, his company employs about 65 people and plan to hire at least 60 more as the cultivation facility grows.
He said the average dispensary might have at least 15 employees at the beginning. The average cultivation facility and infused product factory could also have about 15 employees each.
According to Missouri law, DHSS must grant at least 192 dispensaries, 87 infused product factories and 61 cultivation licenses. If each facility had at least 15 employees, 5,100 jobs would be created in the medical cannabis industry in Missouri.
Abbott said that most dispensary retail employees make between $14 and $17 an hour.