Marijuana reform activists in Missouri handed in more than double the required number of signatures to qualify a cannabis legalization proposal for the ballot in November.
Legal Missouri 2022 collected more than 385,000 signatures from residents that support putting the question of legal cannabis to voters. These have now been passed on to state officials to start the process of signature verification, but only 171,592 of those signatures need to be validated in order for the measure to qualify.
The group’s campaign manager John Payne, who also headed up 2018’s successful medical marijuana legalization ballot initiative, said the impressive number of signatures signaled Missourians were ready to end cannabis prohibition.
“As we submit more than 385,000 petition signatures to the state today, the message from voters is clear: it’s past time to end the senseless and costly prohibition of marijuana,” he said in a press release. “This widespread and enthusiastic show of support from the people of Missouri exceeds our expectations.”
Nonetheless, some marijuana reform advocates and industry stakeholders are not fully satisfied with the proposal and would have preferred a legislative solution instead.
Rep. Ron Hicks (R) introduced a marijuana legalization bill that cleared the committee process, but House leadership decided not to put it up for a full floor vote before the legislative session ended on May 13.
This means Legal Missouri 2022’s marijuana legalization proposal is likely to be the only way to reform Missouri’s marijuana laws this year, so long as the secretary of state rules the signature-gathering process as valid and qualifies the measure.
Here’s a quick rundown of Legal Missouri 2022’s legalization proposal:
- Adults 21 and older can legally purchase and possess up to three ounces of marijuana.
- They can also grow up to six flowering plants, six immature plants, and six clones if they are issued with an authorization card.
- Recreational marijuana sales would be taxed at six percent.
- These revenues would fund automatic expungements for certain nonviolent cannabis-related offenses, and what remains would go toward substance misuse treatment programs, Missouri’s public defender system, and veterans’ healthcare.
- The Department of Health and Senior Services would be the authority in charge of regulating the legal cannabis industry and issuing licenses to marijuana businesses.
- Of these licenses, 144 would be set aside for low-income applicants and those disproportionately impacted by marijuana criminalization.
- Existing medical cannabis dispensaries would have first priority in the recreational licensing process.
- Local jurisdictions would be able to opt out of allowing marijuana businesses to operate in their area if a majority of its voters reject the proposal.
Legal Missouri 2022 aren’t the only ones working on a marijuana legalization ballot initiative in Missouri. Fair Access Missouri and Cannabis Patient Network are also working on cannabis reform proposals, while Rep. Shamed Dogan (R) filed a bill to put a cannabis legalization question on this year’s ballot which recently cleared a House committee after several amendments.
Dogan’s scaled-back proposal would remove marijuana offenses from Missouri’s criminal statute, but it would then be up to the legislature to put regulations in place allowing for legal cannabis sales.