Organizers have collected enough valid signatures to place a cannabis legalization question on the general election ballot in Missouri this fall.
Legal Missouri 22, an organization pushing for the legalization of recreational marijuana use in the state, has collected more than 170,000 signatures in support of legalization — enough to bring the question to a vote, state Republican Attorney General Jay Ashcroft announced last week.
If approved, the state constitutional amendment would allow people over the age of 21 to purchase and grow cannabis for personal consumption. Marijuana sales would be taxed at 6 percent and would be used to fund veterans’ homes, drug treatment programs, and public defenders’ offices across the state.
The measure would also create a program that would automatically erase past non-violent drug convictions for Missouri residents.
The measure comes four years after Missouri voters overwhelmingly approved a medical marijuana vote. The new initiative would not undo that amendment, as the current law allows higher doses of cannabis for those seeking treatment from the drug than the recreational limits in the fall initiative proposal would allow.
The 2018 medical provision passed with 66 percent of the vote, although Missouri is considered deeply conservative. (Former President Donald Trump defeated President Joe Biden in Missouri by around 15 points.) It’s likely that the recreational use initiative will pass with similar numbers.
Polling conducted by SurveyUSA in July found that 62 percent of residents were supportive of an amendment legalizing the recreational use of cannabis, while only 26 percent were against the idea. Another 12 percent were unsure.
“We’re not taking anything for granted, but the data we have certainly indicated we have a good chance of passage,” attorney and cannabis legalization advocate Dan Viets said to The Columbia Tribune.
The legalization of marijuana consumption in Missouri would provide a net good to the state, Viets added.
“Our experience will be similar to that of the 19 other states that have legalized it,” Viets said. “We will stop arresting 20,000 people a year for usually very small amounts of marijuana. It also will expunge the criminal records of hundreds of thousands of people with marijuana convictions.”
At least two other states — South Dakota and Maryland — will also have measures to legalize recreational marijuana use on their ballots this fall. Organizers in a number of other states are still trying to get similar measures on their ballots.
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