Missouri Voters Will Decide Fate of Recreational Cannabis Today

Legal Missouri 2022 gathered just enough signatures to make the ballot

click to enlarge Recreation marijuana legalization will be on the ballot in November. - TOMMY CHIMS
Recreation marijuana legalization will be on the ballot in November.

Missouri voters will have the option to vote on recreational marijuana on November 8.

The proposed constitutional amendment would allow Missourians ages 21 and older to possess, consume, purchase and cultivate marijuana.

In addition, the measure would:
  • Automatically expunge nonviolent marijuana-related criminal records.
  • Extend the amount of time medical marijuana patient and caregiver ID cards are valid from one to three years.
  • Halve the current $100 fee Missourians must pay to grow marijuana at home.
  • Prohibit employment discrimination protection for medical marijuana patients to prevent employees from being fired for medical marijuana use while off the the job.
  • Add at least 144 microbusiness licenses issued through a lottery system with priority given to low-income applicants and people disproportionately impacted by drug criminalization.
  • Allow nurse practitioners to issue medical cannabis recommendations to patients.

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft announced on August 9 that a initiative petition by Legal Missouri 2022 gained enough valid signatures to appear on ballots this fall.

The 39-page measure will appear on ballots as Amendment 3 on November 8.

"We're absolutely thrilled that voters are going to have an opportunity to vote yes on Amendment 3 on November 8 and advance this really important criminal justice reform in the state," John Payne, campaign manager for Legal Missouri tells the RFT.

Legal Missouri estimates a proposed 6 percent sales tax on marijuana would generate at least $40.8 million in annual revenue. Local governments would have an option to levy a local sales tax up to 3 percent.

Public revenue generated from cannabis sales would be used to cover expungement costs for people with records of non-violent marijuana offenses. Funds left over would go toward veterans' services, drug addiction treatment and the state's public defender system.

At first, it seemed Legal Missouri would not have enough time to gather the required amount of signatures needed to secure a spot on November ballots.

In late July, unofficial reports to Secretary of State John Ashcroft's office showed the petition fell short of valid signatures in two of Missouri's eight congressional districts. The petition needed over 1,000 signatures in the 6th and 7th districts. Both cover mostly rural areas in north and southwest Missouri.

There is no word yet from the Secretary of State's office on what led to the boost in needed signatures. Payne says the state performed a routine review of county-by-county results. The office may have disagreed with the adjudication of certain counties on the validity of some signatures.

State officials certified 214,535 voter signatures across the state, surpassing the required minimum by nearly 30,000 votes.

If Legal Missouri's amendment passes, Missouri will become the 20th state to legalize adult-use marijuana.

Payne is confident the amendment will pass. In 2018, he successfully managed a campaign to legalize medical marijuana in Missouri.

"We still have work to do; it's never a sure thing," Payne says. "But all the indications we have are that there is a strong majority of Missouri voters who are supportive of this issue and will vote yes."

This story has been updated.