Initiative on adult-use marijuana legalization qualifies for November ballot
Secretary of State certifies Legal Missouri 2022 citizens’ initiative petition
Missouri voters will soon have an opportunity to determine whether the Show-Me State becomes the 20th in the nation to regulate, tax and legalize marijuana for adult use.
The Legal Missouri 2022 campaign on Tuesday announced that its citizens’ initiative petition — signed by more than 400,000 supporters — contained the necessary number of valid voter signatures to qualify for the Nov. 8 general election ballot, as determined by the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office.
State officials certified 214,535 voter signatures across the state’s eight congressional districts as valid, exceeding the required minimum of 184,720 needed to make the fall ballot.
“Our statewide coalition of activists, business owners, medical marijuana patients and criminal justice reform advocates has worked tirelessly to reach this point, and deserves all the credit,” said John Payne, LegalMo22 campaign manager. “Our campaign volunteers collected 100,000 signatures, on top of paid signature collection. That outpouring of grassroots support among Missourians who want to legalize, tax and regulate cannabis made all the difference.”
“We look forward to engaging with voters across the state in the coming weeks and months. Missourians are more than ready to end the senseless and costly prohibition of marijuana.”
The proposed constitutional amendment will be listed on the ballot as Amendment 3 and would allow Missourians ages 21 and older to possess, consume, purchase and cultivate marijuana.
Additionally, the tens of thousands of Missourians previously charged with nonviolent marijuana offenses would have their records automatically expunged ─ a critical criminal justice reform that if passed, would make Missouri the first state where voters took such a step.
Current Missouri law and most similar programs in other states require those seeking to vacate their convictions to first petition the courts, an expensive and time-consuming process.
A 6 percent state sales tax on marijuana would generate estimated annual revenue of at least $40.8 million, with an optional local sales tax of up to 3 percent yielding additional local government revenues of at least $13.8 million, a state auditor’s analysis projects.
The actual public benefit could potentially be much higher: sales on Missouri’s medical marijuana market now average $30 million a month – $1 million per day, or an annual pace of $360 million.
Those public dollars, in turn, would cover implementation costs including expungement, with remaining funds allocated to veterans’ services, drug addiction treatment and the state’s chronically underfunded public defender system.
The automatic expungement provision does not apply to violent offenders or those whose offenses involved distribution to a minor or operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana.
Organizations endorsing LegalMo22 to date include the ACLU of Missouri, the Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Empower Missouri, the St. Louis City, St. Louis County and St. Charles County chapters of the NAACP, the Reale Justice Network and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and its six chapters across the state.
In 2018, marijuana possession accounted for more than 50 percent of all drug arrests in Missouri. Of the nearly 21,000 marijuana arrests here that year, the vast majority were for simple possession of very small amounts.
The disproportionate impact of those arrests are documented in a 2020 ACLU report which showed that Blacks are 2.6 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession in Missouri – even though their national marijuana usage rates are comparable.
In some Missouri counties, the disparity is as much as 10-to-1.
The initiative’s automatic expungement provision will provide a clean slate to those whose past convictions become what the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law calls “the punishment that never ends.”
“Despite having fully paid their debt to society, they find that the impact of their record lingers, blocking educational, employment, and housing opportunities,” the UMKC Law report concludes. The persistence of criminal records also takes a heavy toll on an individual’s health.”
Law school researchers found that only 125 Missourians (among the estimated 1.3 million to 1.8 million with criminal records) were able to expunge their records in 2019.
The adult-use campaign comes nearly four years after Missouri voters overwhelmingly agreed to enshrine the use and sale of medical cannabis in the state Constitution.
The state Department of Health and Senior Services has since issued more than 190,000 medical cannabis cards to Missouri patients and caregivers
The Legal Missouri 2022 initiative also seeks to broaden participation in the legal cannabis industry by small business owners and among historically disadvantaged populations, including those with limited capital, residents of high-poverty communities, service-disabled veterans and those previously convicted of non-violent marijuana offenses, among other categories.
A new category of cannabis licenses reserved for small businesses would, over time, add a minimum of 144 licensed facilities to the existing 393 licensed and certified cannabis businesses in the state: 18 in each of the state’s eight congressional districts, with at least six per district operating as dispensaries and the remainder designated as wholesale facilities.
This is a new licensing category that allows operators to both cultivate the plant and manufacture cannabis products. The new license holders would be selected at random, by lottery.
A copy of the Legal Missouri 2022 petition can be found here. For more information on the adult-use ballot initiative, including details on how to volunteer or donate to the campaign, visit www.legalmo22.com.
- Allows Missourians 21 years and older to possess, purchase, consume and cultivate marijuana.
- Levies state taxes of 6 percent on retail sales of marijuana. New revenue funds regulatory program and costs to process automatic expungements, with the surplus split equally among veterans’ services, drug addiction treatment, and Missouri’s underfunded public defender system.
- Allows local governments to assess local sales taxes of up to 3 percent.
- Automatically expunges nonviolent marijuana-related criminal records of hundreds of thousands of Missourians. Current Missouri law and most similar programs in other states require those seeking to vacate their convictions to first petition the courts, adding time and expenses.
- Violent offenders and those whose offenses involved distribution to a minor or operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana would be ineligible for expungement.
- Allows local communities to opt out of adult use retail marijuana sales through a vote of the people.
- Strengthen Missouri’s medical marijuana program. The petition extends the amount of time that medical marijuana patient and caregiver ID cards are valid from one to three years while keeping that cost low ($25). And the current $100 fee for Missourians who choose to grow medical marijuana at home will be reduced by half, with the expiration period also extended from one to three years.
- Provides employment
discrimination protection for medical patients, preventing them from being denied employment or being disciplined or fired for off-the-job medical marijuana use.
- Seeks to broaden participation in the legal cannabis industry by small business owners and among historically disadvantaged populations, including those with limited capital, residents of high-poverty communities, service-disabled veterans and those previously convicted of non-violent marijuana offenses
- Adds a minimum of 144 of these new small businesses to the existing 378 licensed and certified cannabis businesses in the state.
- All new license holders will be selected at random, by lottery.
- Adds nurse practitioners to the category of healthcare professionals who can issue medical cannabis recommendations to patients.
Paid for by Legal Missouri 2022, Paul Bocci, Treasurer.