What is the forecast for adult-use marijuana in Missouri in 2022?
As Missouri’s legislative session sits just a few weeks from adjournment, and the process for Missouri’s initiative petitions dictates signatures be turned in by May 8, Greenway looks at the possibilities for adult-use marijuana legalization in 2022.
In the state’s legislature, only HB 2704, the Cannabis Freedom Act, introduced by Representative Ron Hicks has seen significant traction. But despite vocal support of the measure early on, amendments in committee have resulted in some support loss. With the legislature’s adjournment on May 13 fast approaching, the Cannabis Freedom Act faces a daunting timeline.
HB 2704 will need to navigate debate and perfection on the House Floor, once passed the Perfected Bill, would be sent to the Senate. In the Senate, the bill would again be subject to debate and perfection. If the Senate passes an identical form of the bill, it would be Truly Agreed to and Finally Passed.
However, if the bill passes the Senate in a different form, it would return to the House for approval and agreement to the submitted changes – in which case it would it would be Truly Agreed to & Finally Passed. Should the House reject the changes, the bill would return to the Senate for reconsideration.
Should the Senate not reconsider the amendments, or choose not to approve the bill in its original form, the bill would be sent to a Conference Committee composed of members of both the House and Senate.
The Conference Committee will then need to reach an agreement, and a report of the committee is sent to both houses for a vote. If either the Senate or the House rejects the report, the process may be repeated.
All of this needs to be done in roughly two weeks for Missouri’s legislature to legalize marijuana for adult-use in the state.
Vehement opposition to the bill by some members of the Senate makes the timeline and necessary steps for passage even more difficult, as we often see bills with true opposition become casualties to time and an unwillingness to stagnate the remaining days of session.
Despite a grim outlook for passage in the legislature, Missouri’s initiative petition process is what gave the state-legal marijuana for medical purposes in 2018. In 2022, it appears that same process may again be the state’s best hope for legalization.
In 2021, multiple initiative petitions were filed with the Secretary of State and gained approval for circulation. Two IPs began noticeable early campaigns to push for legalization in Missouri. Fair Access Missouri and Legal Missouri 2022, both with roots in Missouri cannabis advocacy and industry, looked to have the most potential.
Fair Access Missouri was supported from the beginning by Missouri Cannabis Industry Association, While Legal Missouri 2022 found support from Missouri NORML and Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association.
Fair Access Missouri’s campaign reported in April filings with the Missouri Ethics Commission a debt of over $73 thousand dollars and the only registered expense in 2022 came in February when the campaign spent roughly $2300 to print petitions.
Conversely, Legal Missouri 2022 has reported over $1 million dollars in expenses for signature collection just since January.
That investment appears to have paid off as Legal Missouri 2022 has collected over 270,000 signatures. But the campaign is aiming for more in a final push before the May 8 signature turn in date. There will be severe losses during the verification process. As such, the campaign is hoping to ensure that it exceeds the roughly 180,000 signatures required for placement on the ballot by doubling efforts in the final weeks before the submission.
Legal Missouri 2022 campaign manager John Payne said recently, “[To] be clear, this is not a done deal. While the number of signatures collected already exceeds the legal minimum required to qualify for the ballot, our campaign will continue to collaborate with voters in the coming days and weeks to collect the tens of thousands of additional signatures needed to ensure our proposal exceeds the required threshold.”
Legal Missouri 2022 has polled well among Missouri voters, but the campaign will need to generate more signatures in the next 11 days to ensure its place on the ballot.