A Republican lawmaker in Missouri is making a renewed effort to put a marijuana legalization question on the state ballot, while cannabis reform activists in the state are also working on reform initiatives.
Rep. Shamed Dogan prefiled a joint resolution to put the constitutional amendment to voters next year, having tried and failed to do so last year.
Under the proposed measure, adults 21 and older would be permitted to possess, buy and cultivate unspecified amounts of cannabis for personal use.
Adult-use cannabis sales would be taxed at 12 percent, while medical marijuana products would be taxed at four percent. The measure would also establish the “Smarter and Safer Missouri Fund” which would receive a portion of these tax revenues to fund veterans’ services, infrastructure and drug misuse treatment programs.
Dogan’s resolution would eliminate and replace the 2018 voter-approved constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana in the state.
The text of the measure states that adult-use cannabis legalization is in the “interest of the efficient use of law enforcement resources, enhancing revenue for public purposes, and individual freedom.”
The measure would ensure that state funds could not be used to enforce federal cannabis prohibition, nor could state law enforcement permit asset or civil forfeiture for cannabis-related activities in compliance with Missouri law.
For individuals with prior non-violent cannabis convictions, the resolution would establish an expungement process to clear these records.
The measure would allow employers to prohibit cannabis at the workplace but is silent on the issue of out-of-work use and mandatory drug testing.
The proposal further provides that the “use or possession of marijuana shall in no way impede on a person’s legal right to possess a firearm.”
While Dogan’s initiative is promising news for cannabis reform activists in Missouri, many remain skeptical that it would pass the GOP-controlled legislature. For this reason, two separate groups are poised to put marijuana legalization questions on next year’s ballot.
“A similar bill from the same sponsor didn’t even receive a committee hearing last year, so if Missouri is going to legalize cannabis, it will have to be done through the citizen-led initiative petition process,” said Legal Missouri 2022 campaign director John Payne. “That’s why Legal Missouri 2022 has built such a broad coalition and will successfully place this question before Missouri voters in 2022.“
Legal Missouri 2022’s proposal would legalize recreational cannabis purchases, possession and cultivation for adults 21 and older. Cannabis sales would be taxed at six percent and this money would be used to facilitate automatic expungements for marijuana-related convictions, healthcare services for veterans, drug misuses treatment programs and Missouri’s public defender system.
Fair Access Missouri is the other group looking to qualify at least one of four legalization measures for the 2022 ballot. Three concern recreational marijuana sales for adults, and the other would expand Missouri’s established medical cannabis program by eliminating caps on licenses, reducing patient fees and allowing patients to possess a year’s supply of medical marijuana rather than just 90 days worth.
In order to qualify a constitutional amendment for the ballot in Missouri, the groups will need to collect 171,592 valid signatures from registered voters.