Missouri cannabis legislation stalls amid legislative gridlock

Missouri cannabis legislation stalls amid legislative gridlock


As the Missouri legislative session draws to a close with just two days remaining, the future of cannabis legislation for the 2024 regular session, including the Intoxicating Cannabinoid Control Act, has bottomed out. Despite broad support from various sectors, the Act faces significant opposition from convenience stores, gas stations, and the hemp industry. This opposition primarily stems from the proposed regulation that would restrict the sale of intoxicating cannabinoid products to licensed dispensaries.

While there is widespread agreement on the need for packaging, testing, and age restrictions for cannabinoid products, the central issue lies in the relegation of sales to dispensaries only. This move is seen by many as limiting the availability and accessibility of these products, which is a point of contention for many retailers outside the dispensary model.

Legislative Gridlock and Filibuster Dynamics
The Missouri Senate is currently embroiled in a record-setting filibuster led by Democrats, who are demanding the removal of controversial provisions, referred to as “ballot candy,” from an initiative petition bill. These provisions, which include bans on non-citizen voting and foreign fundraising for constitutional amendments, have already sparked significant debate. Democrats argue that these provisions are unnecessary and are being used to disenfranchise Missouri voters.

The current filibuster has surpassed the previous record set earlier this year by the Senate Freedom Caucus, which held the floor for 41 hours. As of Wednesday morning, Democrats continue to hold the floor, creating significant legislative gridlock as the session nears its end.


Impact on Cannabis Legislation
The ongoing filibuster has stalled legislative progress on many fronts, including cannabis-related legislation. The Intoxicating Cannabinoid Control Act, despite its initial momentum and mixed industry support, appears to have lost traction amid the broader legislative impasse. With the session set to adjourn at 6 p.m. on Friday, time is running out for any substantial developments in cannabis regulation. No industry-related bills made it to the floor for consideration or passage.

Broader Context
The filibuster and subsequent gridlock are primarily driven by the Republican push to make it harder to amend the Missouri Constitution through citizen-led initiatives. This effort is seen as a response to the likelihood of a ballot measure that would re-establish the constitutional right to abortion later this year. By raising the threshold for passing such measures, Republicans hope to thwart the abortion vote.

Democrats, however, view the initiative petition reform as a direct attack on voter rights and are committed to blocking its passage without significant amendments. The use of procedural tactics, including the filibuster, underscores the deep partisan divide within the Missouri Senate.

As the clock ticks down on Missouri’s legislative session, the fate of cannabis legislation, including the Intoxicating Cannabinoid Control Act, hangs in the balance. The ongoing filibuster and broader legislative gridlock have overshadowed many legislative priorities, leaving the future of cannabis regulation in Missouri uncertain.
With little time left for negotiation and compromise, stakeholders in the cannabis industry are set to review goals, strategy, and next steps. The summer ahead will provide ample opportunity for regrouping throughout the industry.