A campaign to put marijuana legalization on Missouri’s November ballot officially launched on Thursday.
Missourians for a New Approach, the group behind the proposed constitutional amendment, announced it will begin working to collect the 160,199 verified signatures from voters needed to qualify the measure. This comes one month after the secretary of state certified the ballot title and cleared the measure for signature gathering.
Under the initiative, adults 21 and older would be able to possess and purchase cannabis from licensed retailers, and they could cultivate up to three plants for personal use.
A 15 percent tax would be imposed on marijuana sales, with revenue going toward veterans services, substance misuse treatment and infrastructure projects. According to a fiscal analysis from the state, a regulated marijuana market would generate as much as $155 million annually by 2025.
The proposal would also allow individuals with prior cannabis convictions to apply for resentencing or expungements.
“Eleven other states, including our neighbors in Illinois, have successfully regulated and taxed adult-use marijuana, bringing millions in new funding for state services,” John Payne, the group’s campaign manager, said in a press release. “Missourians are strongly in favor of legalizing, taxing and regulating adult marijuana use and we are excited to give voters this opportunity in November.”
While the task ahead of Missourians for a New Approach is steep—requiring sufficient signatures to be gathered by May 3—the effort is being backed by two national advocacy groups, Marijuana Policy Project and New Approach PAC. Leading members of the campaign, including Payne, were also involved in the successful medical cannabis legalization measure that voters approved in 2018.
Missouri NORML and all of the state’s local chapters also voted to endorse the new measure earlier this month.
“It’s time we stop treating adults who use cannabis responsibly like criminals,” Dan Viets, NORML’s Missouri state coordinator and Missourians for a New Approach Board Chair, said. “We should tax and regulate marijuana like we do alcohol.”
One notable provision of the proposed amendment concerns local opt-out rules.
Local governments would be able to temporarily prohibit recreational cannabis businesses from operating in their jurisdictions up until the next general election following Election Day 2020. After that point, local governments could only impose a ban through voter approval of ballot measures.
If the campaign is successful, Missouri will join a growing number of other states that will be voting on cannabis reform in November.
Mississippi activists collected enough signatures to qualify a medical marijuana legalization initiative for the ballot. A marijuana legalization initiative qualified for South Dakota’s ballot earlier this month, and a separate medical cannabis measure will also go before that state’s voters this year. New Jersey’s legislature approved a resolution last month that will put the question of full marijuana legalization to voters.
Advocates predict that several other cannabis reform initiatives will appear on ballots in states across the country as 2020 heats up.
Photo courtesy of WeedPornDaily.
Written by Tom Angell