Local companies see business opportunities as medical cannabis sales begin in Missouri in 2020. They’re not the companies that have applied for one of the initial licenses from the state but those that may offer services to those eventual license holders. 

“A lot of people focus too much on the dispensaries, cultivators and manufacturers, when there are so many other opportunities out there as well,” said Alexander Ivy, vice president and director of accounts for Peacemaker Defense Group

Peacemaker is a St. Louis-based security company that offers transportation security and event security and helps develop security strategy, Ivy said. Soon the company will offer services to clients who want to break into the new medical cannabis industry in Missouri.

It’s a move the company was uncomfortable with at first because of its current state and federal contracts, Ivy said. But Peacemaker changed course after existing clients started to ask if the company would be involved in the cannabis industry.

“Their requests for us to help protect their facilities was a no-brainer for us,” Ivy said.

Other companies also found the shift easy to make. 

“It was a smooth transition,” said Lewis Marty, Simploy business development liaison. “The solutions that we’re going to provide, they’re identical to the solutions we already provide, whether the client is a hotel, a restaurant or a law firm.”

Simploy handles human resources, payroll and government compliance for companies. Dispensaries and cultivators will have to address these issues, as every company does, Marty said. Simploy established Hemploy to provide services for just for those in the medical cannabis space. 

“We’re playing the same set list in a different town,” he said. 

The allure is clear for many businesses. Missouri will approve 192 dispensary licenses, 60 cultivation center licenses, 84 marijuana infuser licenses and 10 testing licenses by the end of January. That’s hundreds of potential new clients.  

Shifting into the medical cannabis space is not entirely about profits. Janette Hamilton, nursing director at Excelcare Home Health Services, saw medical cannabis as another option for clients. Her company has provided home health care in St. Louis and surrounding communities for two decades.

“A lot of the people that we serve are a lot of seniors and people with chronic diseases and chronic pain,” she said. “Especially with all of the opioid epidemic that’s out there, [medical cannabis] just seemed like a way to have an alternative for pain management.”

Engaging with medical cannabis was not always something Hamilton thought she would do, she said. But after her sister-in-law was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, she got curious. 

“We did not receive the optimum outcomes that we were looking for,” Hamilton said. “We started looking for alternatives.”

She did research and found anecdotal accounts of people having a better quality of life using medical cannabis. Now Hamilton wants to extend that opportunity to her clients.

“People want a choice, and finally there is an alternative to traditional pharmaceuticals,” she said.

Eric Schmid covers the Metro East for St. Louis Public Radio as part of the journalism grant program Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. Follow Eric on Twitter: @EricDSchmid 

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