Voters in Missouri decided to legalize adult-use marijuana through a ballot initiative at the midterm elections.

More than 53 percent of Missouri voters approved Amendment 3 to legalize the possession, cultivation and licensed sales of marijuana for adults 21 and older.

The successful vote in favor of reforming Missouri’s cannabis laws is the first time that a mid-western state has legalized recreational marijuana through a citizen-led ballot measure.

Legal Missouri 2022, the organization that led the ballot campaign, faced legal challenges concerning the proposal from prohibitionists, as well as advocates for cannabis reform concerned by the lack of social equity provisions. Marijuana reform advocates formed a group, Missouri Deserves Better, calling on voters to reject Amendment 3 and to instead hold a special legislative session to pass a marijuana legalization bill.

However, Missouri NORML coordinator and chair of the advisory board for the measure, Dan Viets, welcomed the ballot result.

“This is truly a historic occasion,” Viets said. “This means that the great majority of the 20,000 people who have been arrested year after year in Missouri will no longer be subject to criminal prosecution for victimless marijuana law violations.”

In brief, here’s how Amendment 3 will change Missouri’s cannabis laws:

  • Adults 21 and older will be able to possess and purchase up to three ounces of marijuana, as well as grow up to six mature cannabis plants, six immature plants, and six clones if they obtain a registration permit.
  • Recreational marijuana sales will be taxed at six percent and these funds will initially be used to process automatic expungements of certain non-violent marijuana-related offenses from criminal records.
  • Further revenues will fund veterans’ healthcare, substance misuse treatment programs and Missouri’s public defender system.
  • The Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) will be the state agency responsible for regulating the legal cannabis industry, including issuing marijuana business licenses.
  • State cannabis regulators must issue a minimum 144 microbusiness licenses under a lottery system intended to benefit low-income people and others from groups disproportionately impacted by cannabis criminalization.
  • Local jurisdictions reserve the right to opt-out of allowing marijuana businesses from operating in their locality if residents approve such a move through a ballot measure.

The earliest point by which Missourians will be able to legally purchase cannabis is February 2023. The DHSS has already released draft regulations for the recreational industry and is currently receiving input on its proposals from the public.

Adults wishing to grow their own marijuana at home will likely be able to apply for a registration card from January, 2023.

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