Missouri Activists Submit Double Signatures Needed for Marijuana Legalization Ballot Initiative
Missouri activists have turned in more than double the number of signatures needed to qualify a marijuana legalization initiative for the November ballot.
While prospects for enacting reform through the legislature have dwindled in recent days, Legal Missouri 2022 delivered more than 385,000 signatures to the state on Sunday. They need 171,592 of those submissions to pass in order to put the question to voters.
Campaign manager John Payne previously led a successful ballot effort to legalize medical cannabis in the Show-Me State in 2018.
“As we submit more than 385,000 petition signatures to the state today, the message from voters is clear: It’s high time to end senseless and costly marijuana prohibition,” Payne said. in a press release. Press release. “This widespread and enthusiastic show of support from the people of Missouri exceeds our expectations.”
While the largely industry-funded signature drive for adult use initiative appears to have proven successful, some advocates and stakeholders have expressed concerns about the proposal and pushed for reform. legislative instead, such as a legalization bill from Rep. Ron Hicks (R).
This measure went through committee process, and was expected to hit the floor of the House last week, but the sponsor now says it doesn’t appear leaders are willing to move it forward until the adjournment of the session on May 13.
Now, if Missouri will legalize marijuana this year, it looks like it will be up to voters in November, assuming the secretary of state determines that the campaign trail has produced enough valid petitions to qualify the initiative.
This is what Legal Missouri Reform 2022 is initiative would accomplish:
Adults 21 and older could purchase and possess up to three ounces of cannabis.
They could also grow up to six flowering marijuana plants, six immature plants, and six clones if they get a registration card.
The initiative would impose a 6% tax on recreational cannabis sales and use the revenue to facilitate automatic debarments for people with certain non-violent marijuana-related offenses on their records.
The remaining revenue would go to veterans’ health care, drug treatment and the state’s public defender system.
The Department of Health and Senior Services would be responsible for regulating the program and issuing licenses to cannabis businesses.
Regulators would be required to issue at least 144 micro-business licenses through a lottery system, with priority given to low-income applicants and people who have been disproportionately affected by drug criminalization.
Existing medical marijuana dispensaries would also be the first to begin serving adult consumers with dual licenses.
Regulators could create rules regarding advertising, but they could not be stricter than existing restrictions on the marketing of alcohol.
Public consumption, driving under the influence of cannabis and the use of marijuana by minors would be explicitly prohibited.
A seed-to-sale tracking system would be established for the marijuana market.
Local jurisdictions could refuse to allow micro businesses or cannabis retailers to operate in their area if voters approve the ban on the ballot.
The measure would further codify job protections for medical cannabis patients.
Medical marijuana cards would be valid for three years at a time, instead of one. And caregivers could serve double the number of patients.
The Legal Missouri 2022 initiative is supported by the Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association as well as the ACLU of Missouri; NAACP City of St. Louis, St. Louis County, and St. Charles County Chapters; NORML KC and Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. However, some advocates and stakeholders pushed back on the campaign.
But proponents of the Hicks bill, for example, have argued that the lack of specific language in the initiative banning a licensing cap means the emerging market will not be competitive. Some have also expressed concerns about the provisions of the measure aimed at giving medical cannabis dispensaries a head start in serving the adult consumer market.
Eapen Thampy, a lobbyist who worked with Hicks to advance his reform proposal, recently filed a complaint with the secretary of state’s office, alleging that some Legal Missouri 2022 signature collectors misrepresented the measure when speaking to voters.
Legal Missouri 2022’s Payne dismissed the claims in the complaint, recently telling Marijuana Moment that it relies on “fine-source inferences and vague references to anonymous petitioners.”
Hick’s bill, meanwhile, would legalize the possession and sale of cannabis for adults 21 or older, provide opportunities for debarments, allow social consumption facilities and allow cannabis businesses to claim deductions. taxes with the state. But the sponsor conceded that the window to pass it before the end of the legislative session is effectively closed.
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Legal Missouri 2022 activists aren’t the only ones pushing to put legalization on the ballot. A Missouri House committee on Tuesday approved a joint GOP-led resolution aimed at letting voters decide on reform.
Rep. Shamed Dogan’s (R) legislation was amended prior to the panel’s action to reduce some of its provisions.
Under his revised proposal, cannabis-related offenses would be removed from the state’s criminal statute, allowing adults to possess, use and sell marijuana for personal use without facing penalties, pending future regulations that could be enacted by the legislature.
Another Republican state lawmaker, Rep. Jason Chipman (right), tabled a joint resolution this session that would allow voters to demand additional control over how medical cannabis tax revenue is distributed to veterans.
A different campaign, Fair Access Missouri, separately explored several citizen initiatives this year in hopes of getting at least one on the ballot.
Another state lawmaker introduced a bill in late February to decriminalize a range of drugs, including marijuana, psilocybin, LSD, MDMA and cocaine.
The introduction of the measure came after a Republican lawmaker in Missouri introduced a separate bill to give residents with serious illnesses legal access to a range of psychedelic drugs like psilocybin, ibogaine and LSD. through an expanded version of the state’s existing right to try law.
Additionally, a Missouri House committee held a hearing in March on a GOP-led bill to legalize a wide range of psychedelics for therapeutic use in designated care settings while further decriminalizing low-level possession. in general.
Nearly one in 10 jobs created in Missouri last year came from the state’s medical marijuana industry, according to an analysis of state labor data released by a trade group last month.
Separately, legislative drama is unfolding in the state over a proposal that supporters say would limit their ability to place constitutional amendments on the ballot.
Voters in Austin, Texas approve local ballot initiative to decriminalize marijuana
Photo courtesy of Philip Stefan.