SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Springfield has eight medical marijuana dispensaries, but depending on where you live, the patients might not be who you expect.
Old Route 66 in Ozark opened in march. Its Springfield location opened roughly four months earlier, but, its Ozarks patients are older than you might think.
“Marijuana is not the drug like it used to be in the 60s,” says 71-year-old James Chick. “I have had some patients come in that are a little bit older than me, not by too much, that have actually been older than me.”
He works at old route 66 in Ozark and got his medical marijuana card in 20-19.
“Myself as a baby boomer, for 50 years we’ve… it’s been pretty much illegal. Then when 2019 came around and Missouri let us get our patient cards, quite a few of us took the opportunity to get the patient cards and experience it for the first time,” says Chick.
Co-owner Ashley Markum wasn’t sure what to expect at the Ozark location.
“We definitely didn’t know what type of demographic was going to come in here, how busy we were going to be. We’ve all been surprised at how busy in general we’ve been here,” says Markum.
But, old habits tend to come up.
“We even have some patients come in and they still have that stigma of buying marijuana. Some will actually get through the door but then when it’s almost to the process of getting them in the bud room to do that purchase, then they get anxiety and the stigmas kick in and they say ‘oh no, I’ll come back later,'” says Chick.
Old Route 66 has seen how coming one time changes old perceptions.
“The older folks that come in, you can see from each time that they come in how much better health that they’re in, how much comfort, pain relief they’re having because they have access to this medicine,” says Markum.
“People will realize over time that it’s going to be beneficial for them, rather than turning to opioids, fentanyl, and all the hard medications doctors are prescribing. I think it’s another alternative way, and it’s a positive way,” says Chick.
Roughly 150 dispensaries are approved to operate.
In Greene County, between eight and 14-thousand have a medical card.