The law, if passed, would amend the Missouri Constitution. It would legalize the purchase, possession, consumption, manufacturing, delivery, and sale of marijuana for personal use by people over the age of 21. The law would allow personal cultivation of up to six mature plants, six immature plants, and six clones, but only with a registration card. The amendment states licenses would be awarded through a lottery selection process that has an equal number of licenses distributed to each district.

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Missouri’s Cannabis Ballot Measure

Adult-use marijuana in Missouri, if legalized, would be taxed at 6% of its retail price by the state, and localities can choose to add another tax of up to 3%. Supporters of the measure think that would bring at least $40.8 million in revenue to the state annually, $13.8 million of which would remain local. Local communities can still vote to opt out of recreational marijuana sales. 

Beyond legalizing adult-use marijuana, the amendment would correct past harms caused by the prohibition on cannabis. It mandates criminal records be automatically expunged for people with non-violent marijuana-related offenses. Other states with similar provisions in their marijuana legalization laws say people need to petition the court in order to remove their convictions, but having it happen automatically will make the process much faster. Those who are incarcerated or on parole or probation can petition for release from those circumstances. 

a person pressing their fingerprint down on a piece of paper This amendment would help expunge non-violent cannabis offenses. photo credit

People whose offenses involve something violent, distribution to a minor, or operating a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana would not be eligible to have their marijuana-related convictions expunged. 

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"We're talking about people who may still be on probation or parole or even had a conviction and did their time and paid their fine but yet it still comes up and is a hindrance in housing or employment," Alan Zagier, the Communications Manager for Legal MO 2022, told KSDK. "Provide a fresh start and wipe the slate clean for really tens of thousands of Missourians who each year find themselves arrested for low level drug offenses."

Cannabis Licenses Under This Ballot Measure

There are also provisions to help small business owners get licenses. A new category of licenses creates wholesale facilities which can both cultivate marijuana and manufacture cannabis products like edibles, concentrates, topicals, and vapes. In order to get a wholesale license, businesses have to meet at least one of the requirements below: 

  • Have a net worth under $250,000 and have brought in an income below 250% of the federal poverty rate for at least three years in the past decade. Currently, the federal poverty rate is $13,590 earned annually for a single person or $27,750 for a family of four
  • Have a disability card from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs issued because of an injury sustained due to their military service
  • Have been arrested, prosecuted, or convicted of a non-violent offense or have a child or spouse who meets that criterion
  • Live in an area with high poverty, unemployment, or imprisonment rates due to the War on Drugs
  • Have graduated from an unaccredited school district or live in an area with a district of that nature for 3 of the past 5 years

John Payne, the Campaign Manager for Legal Missouri 2022, the group pushing for recreational marijuana to be legalized in the state, posted a triumphant message online after submitting the signatures: “WE DID IT!!!”

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“This monumental effort couldn’t have happened without everyone who pitched in to help with donations, signature collection, and community education,” Payne wrote.

But the fight, he says, is not over. Even though the petition got enough signatures to make it onto the ballot, Missouri voters still need to show up at the ballot box. Payne says Legal Missouri 2022 is strategizing and planning for its upcoming campaign. 

“A new future is on the horizon,” said Payne. 

Medical Marijuana in Missouri

Missourians legalized medical marijuana in 2018, making it the 31st state to do so. That year, there were three total options on the ballot to legalize medical marijuana. The one that passed, Amendment 2, emphasizes medical marijuana access for military veterans. Patients with cancer, HIV, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other serious medical conditions have access to medical cannabis as a result of that amendment. Medical marijuana is taxed at 4% in Missouri, and that money goes to a fund for health and services for veterans.  

a female doctor with long dark hair wearing a lab coat, holding out a pill bottle with a cannabis leaf This amendment would not only address legalized recreational cannabis, but amend the medical marijuana program as well. photo credit

The new amendment would strengthen the state’s already-existing medical marijuana program, which currently includes nearly 150,000 registered patients and caregivers. The potential law says medical patient and caregiver ID cards remain valid for three years rather than one, and keeps the cost for that card at $25. The expiration period for licenses to grow medical marijuana at home are also changing to three years from one, and the fee for that card is going down to $50 rather than the $100 it sits at currently. 

Current medical-only marijuana facilities would have the ability to convert their licenses so that they could serve both medical and recreational consumers of the product. Supporters of the amendment say that it would cut down on Black Market weed sales almost immediately after the law is passed. 

Voters to Decide This Fall

Missouri Secretary of State John Ashcroft has officially signed the Certificate of Sufficiency of Petition. Legal Missouri 2022 submitted 390,000 signatures in total. That proved to be enough, despite two congressional districts getting an insufficient number of valid signatures for the measure to make it onto the ballot. Some districts had thousands more signatures submitted than ones deemed valid; District 5, for instance, had 78,777 signatures turned in, but only 35,834 validated. That still surpassed the 28,458 the district needed for Amendment XIV to be placed on the ballot. 

“I encourage Missourians to study and educate themselves on any ballot initiative,” said Ashcroft in a statement.  “Initiative 2022-059 [to legalize recreational marijuana] that voters will see on the November ballot is particularly lengthy and should be given careful consideration.”

Missouri would be the 20th state to legalize recreational marijuana if this amendment passes in November. 

“This effort has been years of work in the making,” said Payne. “I am grateful to all those who’ve believed in the mission and chosen to take action in pursuit of ending decades of cannabis prohibition. Together, we will get this before the voters THIS YEAR and enact one of the most important criminal justice reforms in Missouri history.”

There are also legalization measures up for a November vote in South Dakota and Maryland. Arkansas, North Dakota, and Oklahoma all have voters working to try to get a measure up for a vote. 

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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