Missouri is high on my list of states that could legalize marijuana by the end of 2016. Missouri has the strongest campaign team I have ever seen (Show-Me Cannabis), and I always say that if they can legalize in Missouri, they will prove that any state can do the same. Unlike Western and Northeastern states, where views towards cannabis are generally more liberal, Missouri is in the heart of America where reefer madness is much more prevalent.
Possession of over 35 grams of marijuana is a felony in Missouri subject to a prison sentence of up to seven years and a $5,000 fine. Missouri is home to Jeff Mizanskey, who is serving a life prison sentence for marijuana only offenses. Needless to say Missouri needs marijuana reform in a bad way. That's why I'm happy to report that Missouri Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal has introduced a marijuana legalization bill to the Missouri Legislature. Per KTRS:
In a release, the senator says she has based her legislation on the Colorado plan. The group Show-Me Cannabis, who lobbies for the legalization of the drug, tells KTRS they support the legislation and say "Missouri arrests 20,000 people each year for marijuana offenses, and a disturbingly disproportionate number of those arrests come from minority communities."
Below is the press release Maria Chappelle-Nadal issued after introducing the legislation:
Today, Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal (D-University City) introduced legislation that would legalize the medical and recreational use of marijuana.
"After much thought, deliberation, and research, I have concluded that Missouri must begin the process of legalizing marijuana in order to reap the multiple associated economic and societal benefits," Chappelle-Nadal stated.
Chappelle-Nadal's legislation is based on Colorado's model, which tracks every aspect of production and taxes at the point of sale. Last month alone, Colorado received over $8.5 million in new tax revenue from the sale of legal marijuana. The new law would help Missouri better fund education, healthcare and other pressing needs for underserved communities.
Legalization would create jobs on a significant scale.
"Most of all, this is a free-market jobs bill," stated Chappelle-Nadal. "This is the definition of economic development."
Over and above the proven medical and economic benefits, legalization offers societal advantages too compelling to ignore. Recent studies suggest marijuana may help decrease instances of domestic violence and also reduce the number of painkiller overdoses.
Chappelle-Nadal's legalization would also save the state money on law enforcement, prisons, and courts, while at the same time helping collapse a dangerous and sometimes violent underground market.
"Missouri has the chance to be at the forefront of an emerging industry, creating jobs in both rural and urban areas of this state," said Chappelle-Nadal. "We simply cannot afford to be behind the curve on this issue any longer."
For more information on Sen. Chappelle-Nadal's legislative efforts, visit her official Senate website atwww.senate.mov.gov/chappelle-nadal.