Missourians for a New Approach launched a campaign to get adult-use marijuana on the November 2020 ballot as volunteers hit the streets to collect the necessary signatures to qualify the measure.
This would be a big (and fast!) step for Missouri, considering they just passed medical marijuana a little over a year ago.
To qualify for the ballot, the proposal must get 160,199 verified signatures and be turned into the Missouri Secretary of State's office by May 3, 2020.
The ballot measure would add language to the Missouri Constitution stating that the use, cultivation, and sale of cannabis is not unlawful or an offense in Missouri. The ballot measure would also expunge non-violent marijuana-related criminal and civil offenses.
The effort is being backed by many of the same Missourians and groups that passed a medical marijuana constitutional amendment with 66% in 2018.
The proposal, known as the Missouri Marijuana Legalization and Expungement Initiative (2020), would allow individuals with prior cannabis convictions to apply for re-sentencing or expungements.
Missouri NORML and all of the state’s local chapters voted to endorse the new measure. Chris Chesley, cannabis activist and Deputy Director of Greater St. Louis NORML said, "This initiative is more likely than any other to not only make the ballot but also pass. Anything that pushes legalization forward, NORML will get behind."
Jamie Kacz, the Executive Director for NORML KC, said, “NORML KC supports this measure that furthers Missouri marijuana reform. This initiative includes expungement and parental protections, both issues that have been overlooked in other legal states.”
In a news release, New Approach’s board chair, Dan Viets, noted that legalizing recreational marijuana could produce $93 million to $155 million annually for the state by 2025. Local governments could also see revenue from legalization.
“It's time we stop treating adults who use cannabis responsibly like criminals. We should tax and regulate marijuana like we do alcohol," said Viets, who is also Missouri’s state coordinator for NORML.
A 15 percent tax would be imposed on marijuana sales, with revenue going toward veterans services, substance misuse treatment and infrastructure projects.
Under the initiative, adults 21 and older would be able to possess and purchase cannabis from licensed retailers, and they could cultivate up to three plants for personal use.
The time has come.
“Eleven other states, including our neighbors in Illinois, have successfully regulated and taxed adult-use marijuana, bringing millions in new funding for state services,” said John Payne, campaign manager for Missourians for a New Approach and former campaign manager for New Approach Missouri, in a press release published by Cannabis Dispensary.
“Missourians are strongly in favor of legalizing, taxing and regulating adult marijuana use and we are excited to give voters this opportunity in November.”
Some of the key provisions of initiative petition include:
- Allowing Missourians 21 years and older to possess marijuana
- Taxing retail sales of marijuana at 15%, with the funds being split between veterans' services, Missouri's roads and bridges and drug addiction treatment
- Allowing local communities to opt-out of retail marijuana sales through a public vote
- Allowing Missourians with certain marijuana-related offenses to expunge their criminal record
It's amazing to see how far Missouri has come since the start of Show-Me-Cannabis, an association of organizations and individuals who believe that cannabis prohibition is a failed policy, and regulating cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol would better control the production, distribution and consumption of cannabis than the current criminal market system does.
With the most recent poll showing that ⅔ of U.S. citizens support cannabis legalization, it is only a matter of when and how this process will happen. States like Missouri that are in the middle of America’s heartland have all the sway here, and we look forward to seeing more reform efforts such as this one.