MISSOURI — Missouri is approaching the three-year mark for legal sales of medical marijuana. The numbers are growing fast – everything from approved patients to total sales.

“You know, for so long marijuana has been illegal. It’s been an illicit substance that, you know, the laws have been against,” said Alex Williams, Mo Made Marijuana Sec.

But Missouri is one of 37 states to change that, allowing the medical use of marijuana.

“I think marijuana is a great alternative to pain medication and other things like that, that, you know, some people just can’t do,” he added.

And many patients agree. More than 188,000 are now allowed to use marijuana for a list of specific conditions or quote “any other chronic, debilitating, or other medical condition” based on a physician’s professional judgment.

Unsurprisingly, Jasper County has the biggest concentration in southwest Missouri, with more than 4,200 patients permitted. Newton County is next with 1,800, and Barry County third with 1,100. That base has led to dozens of shops operating statewide.

“Patients are being served by more than 180 dispensary facilities in Missouri, a 20% increase from last fall,” said Lyndall Fraker, MO DHSS.

That includes locations in Joplin, Carl Junction, Carthage, and Neosho. Supplies for those dispensaries were limited in the early days of sales since production was also just starting. Workers at “Missouri Made Marijuana” in Joplin say that’s less of an issue now, especially for them.

“I think there is always room to grow in Missouri. I think there’s a lot of potential. However, our company, we’ve already got our roots here. You know, we have our cultivation. We have our dispensary and I expect expansion from our company, as well as other many companies in Missouri,” said Williams.

Statewide sales is the big number. It’s $426,000,000 as of July. Compare that to early sales when it took five months to hit the $10,000,000 mark.