Marijuana dispensaries are opening soon in South County

New dispensaries will open on Watson and on Lindbergh


Photo by Erin Achenbach

Captiva Healing Dispensary, 9933 Watson Road in Crestwood, appears set to be the first dispensary to open in South County, with its website promoting a grand opening April 8. As of Thursday, April 1, the dispensary appeared to be open for a soft opening.

By Erin Achenbach, Staff Reporter

The first medical marijuana dispensaries in South County are racing to open this month just in time for 4/20.

Crestwood’s Captiva Healing Dispensary, 9933 Watson Road, appears set to be the first dispensary to open in South County, with its website promoting a grand opening April 8 with a tropical theme. As of April 1, the dispensary appeared to be open for a soft opening.

Proper Cannabis, at 7417 S. Lindbergh Blvd. near South County Center, will open in mid-April as a high-end retail store with products such as artisanal chocolates. The unincorporated site needed no zoning from St. Louis County because it is in a C-3 Commercial Shopping District, where dispensaries are allowed as a use.

Missouri voters approved medical marijuana through an amendment to the Missouri Constitution in November 2018. St. Louis County’s first dispensary, N’Bliss, opened on Manchester Road in October.

The state approved licenses for six dispensaries in South County in February 2020. Sunset Hills approved a dispensary at 10425 Watson Road, the site of Treppler Autobody, in December.

Those developers, who operate in multiple states, received $45 million in investor funding to expand into Missouri and Massachusetts, according to the Grown In cannabis industry newsletter.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services oversees the state’s marijuana industry and awards permits to operate. Missouri granted 336 licenses for the four types of facilities: dispensaries, cultivation, infused product manufacturing and laboratories. Of those, 192 dispensary licenses were awarded, 24 per congressional district. The other South County dispensary locations approved but not yet open include VG, 5511 S. Lindbergh Blvd., 63123 (strip mall with Sunshine Daydream); Nature’s Med MO at 234 Kingston Drive, 63125 (strip mall with Sam’s Liquor); and TC, 3739 S. Lindbergh Blvd., Sunset Hills (next to the new Jimmy John’s).

There were 46 applications in Jefferson County, including seven dispensaries in Arnold. None of those locations were approved by the state. Two dispensaries won licenses to operate in Fenton: 354 Skinker Lane and 180 Gravois Bluffs Circle.

QPS Missouri was awarded five licenses to operate, in Sunset Hills, St. Charles, Columbia, St. Roberts and Cape Girardeau.

The Sunset Hills Board of Aldermen approved a conditional-use permit for QPS Missouri’s Watson Road location 6-0-1 Jan. 12.

Ward 1 Aldermen Joe Stewart and Ann McMunn, Ward 4 Aldermen Thompson Price and Mark Colombo, Ward 3 Alderman Cathy Friedmann and Ward 2 Alderman Steve Bersche voted yes, while Ward 2 Alderman Casey Wong abstained. Ward 3 Alderman Nathan Lipe was absent.

The board first heard the proposal at a December public hearing where no members of the public spoke. The Planning and Zoning Commission recommended the permit the month before on a 6-2 vote.

The approval comes with conditions, including limiting hours of operation from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., keeping parking on site, no on-site consumption, no loitering and restricting sales to medicinal only if the state approves recreational marijuana.

The city’s code prohibits consumption on site, but Friedmann said that adding it to the CUP is “belts and suspenders, we could just wrap it up with a pretty bow.”

CEO Ankur Rungta said his partners, including his brother Vishal, have significant experience in both the cannabis industry and in corporate management positions.

“Our background is in corporate law, investment banking, private equity and also in the recent four years, operating this multisite cannabis business” in Oregon, Michigan and now Missouri, said Rungta. “Our third partner, Joel (Ruggiero), spent about 10 years in Denver, Colorado, gaining experience. … That was the first market in the U.S. to have a large commercial industry.” 

The state application requires describing the community alignment and positive economic impact of a facility. Wong was skeptical about the community aspect for QPS.

Rungta said that the dispensary would give back through a nonprofit and welcomed feedback from residents: “We’re talking … about trying to be sort of productive, contributing members of the business community in that town. So trying to follow all the rules and regulations. … Trying to have direct and open communication with all the folks in the town. We modify our approach to operations, or the way we are approaching the site in our buildout, to align with the community’s priorities or sensitivity or feedback.”

QPS Missouri will be working with the Justine Petersen Housing and Reinvestment Corporation, a nonprofit that connects low- to middle-income individuals and families with resources to help them build assets.

“We do our best to be aligned with the community, to try to adjust where we can to meet the community’s wishes,” Rungta said. “Our goal is … to have a quality operating business in that town that hopefully isn’t creating any local impairment to the quality of living in the neighborhood.”

Since medical marijuana is written into the Missouri Constitution, local cities cannot keep dispensaries away from their town borders, but can enforce buffers and other aspects of zoning regulated under a CUP.

In 2019, Sunset Hills set a 500-foot buffer for dispensaries. The city’s ordinance permits dispensaries in the C-1 Commercial District with a CUP, and prohibits dispensaries from operating within 500 feet of a church, school or daycare.

Cultivation facilities, testing facilities and infused-product manufacturing facilities are permitted in industrial districts with zoning approval. A 1,000-foot buffer is required between schools, churches and daycares and cultivation, testing and infused-product manufacturing facilities.

Each type of medical marijuana facility is limited to three, with a 1,500-foot buffer between facilities.

Fran and Joan Struckhoff, owners of Prestige Pools across from QPS, sent a letter opposing the dispensary to the mayor and board that first requested some of the conditions approved by aldermen with the permit, including no loitering, keeping parking to the dispensary’s own property and prohibiting on-site consumption: “We are concerned that the medical marijuana facility proposed in the petition will have an adverse impact on our business and the safety of the surrounding area.”

City Attorney Robert E. Jones said that conditions could be applied but that the city is limited in its zoning abilities.

“Cities have limited time, place and manner-type of ability to impose its zoning regulations, and we have done that though the code,” said Jones. “We have spacing requirements. We also impose age limits and no consumption on premises. … We have a number of different security plan requirements in terms of surveillance and inventory.  … The applicant here has gone through a rigorous process. … The city has to allow these somewhere as long as they comply with state law.”