Grant Wistrom and his new Missouri dispensary brand. (Distributed)

Missouri Sports Hall of Famer Grant Wistrom never had to work again after earning millions playing in the NFL for the St. Louis Rams and later the Seattle Seahawks. 

“I had done well enough and took care of my money so that going out and finding another career was not a necessity,” said Wistrom, who is forty-four and last played professionally in 2006. 

A longtime fan of the plant with battle scars from the gridiron, Wistrom recognized pot’s therapeutic value as an alternative to the prescription painkillers that permeate throughout professional sports leagues and society at large. 

The notion of becoming a cannabis entrepreneur, however, did not really resonate with him until Missouri legalized medical marijauana in 2018. With that governmental and societal green light, Wistrom began drawing up a game plan for the weed biz. 

A native of Joplin, Missouri, which is along Route 66 in the southwest part of the Show Me State, Wistrom is planning to open The Revival Ninety-Eight dispensary early next year “in the buckle of the bible belt”, Springfield, Missouri. 

“Until it was verified by the people of Missouri, I never knew this was going to be a reality,” he said, adding that aside from financing and “creating brand and customer loyalty,” he is leaving the operations up to experienced professionals. 

So, when future Revival Ninety-Eight general manager Jason Bach cold called Wistrom about a job after reading about his aspirations in a local publication, he found an entrepreneur greatly in demand of his expertise. 

Bach, a Springfield native, lived in Colorado as that state began its medical program more than a decade ago. A practitioner in the trade while it was still illicit in Colorado, Bach sold his weed by the pound to early Colorado medical dispensaries desperate for supply. He later ran a grow store in Colorado for eight years before moving back home to work in Missouri’s nascent industry.

Things are considerably more buttoned up in Missouri, Bach says, as the state can learn from the success and failures of others that came before it.

“They didn’t have to wing it,” he said. 

Along with the dispensary, Revival Ninety-Eight has a manufacturing license. As the state’s first cultivators get up and running, Bach now finds himself on the buy-side, keeping in touch with growers to make sure his store has enough inventory to meet anticipated demand. 

“It’s definitely been different as far as the supply and the demand go,” he said. 

As for Wistrom, he can afford to play the long game and seems to be positioned to grow alongside the industry as Missouri gets through its embryonic period. Beyond seeking a financial return, Wistrom is mission-driven to normalize the industry while providing healing and comfort to former teammates and others who now have permission to choose cannabis to relieve what ails them. 

“We are here now,” says Wistrom, who’s collegiate achievements included winning three national championships for the Nebraska Cornhuskers as well as the Lombardi Award for best defensive lineman in the NCAA.

Even in his deep red alumnus state, where he is active in the mortgage industry, Wistrom notes that the people and attorney general are pushing for legal weed as the state supreme court and other political interests resist what he deems to be inevitable.  

“The waterfall is here, and it’s just a matter of time until it’s national.”

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Brad Spirrison is a journalist, serial entrepreneur and media ecologist. He lives in Chicago with his son. Interests include music, meditation and Miles Davis.