A Missouri hospitality group is drawing up plans to launch a cannabis-friendly waterfront entertainment district just minutes from Kansas City.
Just one day after a majority of Missouri voters legalized adult-use cannabis, the Besa Hospitality Group (BHG) announced plans for a new entertainment district on the Missouri River. The new development, which will be located in the Village of River Bend near Kansas City, will include a 14,000-seat amphitheater, festival grounds, two indoor entertainment venues, restaurants, and spaces for corporate events and weddings.
BHG is calling its new project the Smokey River Entertainment District, and for good reason. As part of its overall concept, the company will allow adults to smoke weed in specific areas of the venue. The company explained that they are rolling out this new district in partnership with BesaMe Wellness, a local medical marijuana business that is presumably hoping to expand into the adult-use market as well.
“We have an opportunity to showcase cannabis and the acceptance of cannabis in our everyday lives. We’re normalizing cannabis through hospitality,” said Joey Pintozzi, Vice President of Operations and Marketing at BHG, to KCTV5. “This is an entertainment venue first and foremost. Cannabis just happens to be part of that experience. People will be free to legally consume in some of the venues and enjoy being themselves.”
BHG plans to complete the new development in two separate stages. In the spring of 2023, the company plans to open the festival grounds, a 1,500 seat venue for live music and events, and several food and beverage concepts. In the second stage, slated for spring 2024, the company intends to open a new amphitheater large enough to host large local, regional, and national shows.
But while BHG has a definitive timetable for its new cannabis consumption district, the overall timetable for Missouri's rollout of legal weed sales is still hazy. Before the first crop of legal weed can even be planted, the state must first draft regulations and award licenses to legal businesses. This process has proved to be a major hurdle for most adult-use states, and in some cases it has taken three or more years for states to actually get their first legal weed shops open for business.
Missouri already has a leg up in the game, though. State officials were so confident that the legalization measure would pass that they started drafting the necessary regulations this summer. Arizona regulators used a similar strategy to get their legal weed stores up and running in just a little over a year, so there's a chance that the state's advance planning may help get legal weed into the hands of Missourians sooner rather than later.