Thursday, January 16, 2014

Legal Weed in Missouri Is One Step Closer to Your 2014 Ballot

Posted By on Thu, Jan 16, 2014 at 9:30 AM

click to enlarge Will medical marijuana be legal in Missouri? - EGROLLE ON FLICKR
  • egrolle on flickr
  • Will medical marijuana be legal in Missouri?

Marijuana legalization is one step closer to finding a place on your 2014 ballot.

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander released thirteen petitions Wednesday asking whether Missouri should legalize sale and consumption of the drug, including for medical purposes, expunge marijuana-related offenses from the records of convicted criminals, and authorize the government to tax and regulate the marketplace.

See also: All Eyes on Colorado: 4 Reasons St. Louis Is Jealous of Legal Weed (And 1 Reason We're Not)

The process to legalize marijuana in Missouri is purposefully complicated because it requires a change to Article I of the constitution, so let Daily RFT break it down:

Dan Viets, chairman of Show-Me Cannabis and a lawyer in Columbia, submitted thirteen petitions aiming to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol. The thirteen petitions change slightly, giving voters options on how legalization would impact people with criminal records for marijuana cases.

Wait, wait, wait, smoke break. OK, now we're ready. - TANJILA ON FLICKR
  • tanjila on flickr
  • Wait, wait, wait, smoke break. OK, now we're ready.

The next step for legalization activists is getting signatures on their petitions, and that's where the math gets a little funky.

The law requires petitioners to submit the same number of signatures as equals 8 percent of the 2.7 million votes cast in the 2012 governor's election from people representing six of the state's eight congressional districts. Organizers have until May 4 to turn in their signatures.

If Viets and fellow activists can't get all the signatures this year, they have already promised to come back in two years and try again.

See also: Show-Me Cannabis Submits Proposals to Make Legal Marijuana Your Constitutional Right

The financial impact of legal weed on Missouri is still unclear, but the petitions say Missouri expects to pay $1 million in startup costs, $4.6 million in annual operating costs and to rake in $142 million in annual revenue.

  • rafael-castillo on flickr

If you're getting deja vu, you're not wrong. Missouri has been through this before. In 2011, the secretary of state approved two of Viets' petitions for marijuana legalization, but without the examples of Colorado and Washington to follow, even the Daily RFT wasn't optimistic.

See also: Proposals Seek to Legalize Marijuana in Missouri 2011

"The federal government still considers marijuana a controlled substance," we wrote in 2011. "It's doubtful Uncle Sam would allow Missouri to become the first state in the nation to openly allow the sale and use of marijuana for non-medical reasons."

Now, the climate has changed. Marijuana is for sale in Colorado and, soon, Washington State to adults. Medical marijuana was approved in Illinois this year.

The furthest that marijuana legalization has advanced in Missouri's legislature is a morning hearing on the last day of the session last year.

Read the full text of Viets' proposed petitions on the next page.

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