SPRINGFIELD and GALENA, Mo. The first of several types of medical marijuana business licenses are being handed out this week by the Missouri Health Department.
The first awarding of business licenses is for testing laboratories that will insure the product has the appropriate T-H-C level and be free of chemicals and mold.
The other types of facilities that will be announced in the coming weeks including transportation facilities (around Dec. 23), cultivation facilities (around Dec. 26), manufacturing (around Jan. 10), dispensaries (around Jan. 24) and seed-to-sale tracking (around Jan. 31).
The majority of licenses for the 10 testing labs were for facilities that would be along the I-70 corridor between St. Louis and Kansas City.
But in southwest Missouri Botannis Labs will be located at 215 North Grant Avenue in downtown Springfield and ContiCorp will be at 109B South Main Street in Galena, which just so happens to be right next to city hall.
In her 37 years in Springfield's planning and zoning department Mary Lily Smith has dealt with a lot of new industries but admits this latest one is definitely unique.
"I never thought in my career that I would deal with locating marijuana facilities," she said with a laugh.
But in the coming months at a white unmarked building on North Grant next door to Bud's Tire and across the street from the city bus terminal, the lab testing facility will be put into place.
While the general public may grapple over the pros-and-cons of marijuana use and federal law does not protect or recognize medical marijuana possession or use, Smith says the city has done its best to put into effect a state constitutional amendemet that was made by a vote of the people, not a government entity.
"In that constitutional amendment there's a lot not just about how the business should be run but also about behavior," she pointed out. "So you shouldn't see someone standing on the corner smoking marijuana because that's not permitted by the constitutional amendment. So I think there's certainly an education campaign that's going to be needed and I think we'll be seeing that as we get closer."
Smith said while other medical marijuana-related businesses are likely to be awarded in the Springfield area, the labs are of interest because of their potential economic impact for employees.
"It is our understanding that those will employ the highest paid personnel so we're really happy to see those jobs created in Springfield," she said.
Those lab jobs will also be coming to Galena where Chris Conti is the company principal of ContiCorp which will run the business.
The Conti family also owns the only other major industry in Galena also located on the square, Dynatek Industries.
"Quite high-tech, quite swanky," is how Galena City Council member Deana Wells described Dynatek, which tests medical devices like stents and heart valves as well as offering other medical services, consulting and equipment in a global market.
"You'd never guess you'd find a business like that in a town like Galena," Wells said of the small town with a population of less than 500.
But now just a block away from their medical business the family will be giving this town another major business with a much different product.
"There's been nothing but positive feedback from the community,"
And is she surprised by that?
"A little bit," she replied. "It's uncharted territory but what we were most excited about is who brought it to the table. The Conti family are already established business owners and our neighbors so we're very confident in what they're bringing forward and stand behind them."
Wells also pointed to the economic impact of having another major business in town.
"It's going to be shopping, real estate values, people moving into the area and going to our schools," she said. "All this growth is going to happen regionally."