Missouri cannabis advocates are focusing on recreational legislation

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Residents could have the option to vote on Missouri’s recreational cannabis proposal this November. The news comes two years after a medical cannabis initiative was approved by voters in the state.  

Local organization NORML KC is pushing to “end cannabis prohibition in Missouri,” based on information that has been posted on its official Facebook page. According to NORML KC, a petition is set to commence on March 10 in collaboration with the Missouri Presidential Primary

“This day will be our best chance to gather a significant amount of the over 160,000 signatures we need before May 3rd to put our adult-use [cannabis] initiative on the November 2020 ballot,” reads a post from the organization that was addressed to volunteers; of whom are being called upon to push for statewide recreational cannabis legalization.  

Medical cannabis in Missouri was legalized in 2018

In November 2018, almost 66 percent of voters legalized Missouri Amendment 2 with a margin of approximately two to one; the legislation granted patients access to pharmaceutical-approved cannabis with a doctor’s prescription. Based on the details of Missouri’s medical cannabis law, a four percent tax is imposed on dispensary sales. Tax revenue benefits healthcare programs and services that are made available from the Missouri Veterans Commission.

About Missouri’s recreational cannabis proposal

Pro-cannabis residents in Missouri are now attempting to amend the state constitution to legalize cannabis for adult-use purposes. As per the details of the amendment, individuals aged 21 years and above would be legally allowed to possess a maximum of one ounce of cannabis. 

Home cultivation would be subject to specific rules, e.g. the plant could not be legally consumed in a public space. Moreover, it would be against the law to consume the plant before or while driving a vehicle. Individuals who have been convicted of a cannabis-related offence could also have their records expunged as part of Missouri’s medical cannabis bill.

In addition to this, Missouri’s recreational cannabis bill would if approved and enacted into law permit individuals of the legal age to cultivate a small amount of the plant for personal consumption. Should Missouri’s recreational cannabis bill gain approval from voters, it would be effectuated by December 3, 2020.

Concerns regarding Missouri’s recreational cannabis proposal

Although the provisions contained in Missouri’s adult-use cannabis bill are appealing to consumers and prospective business owners, concerns remain. Some skeptics are concerned that the plant is a gateway drug. While this has reportedly been debunked, a 2017 study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry claimed that the plant increases rather than decreases “the risk of developing nonmedical prescription opioid use and opioid use disorder.”

The subject of potential addiction poses another worry, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stating that one in 10 cannabis consumers will become addicted to the substance. Furthermore, safety issues have been raised by the National Institute of Drug Abuse. 

“Substantial evidence from animal research and a growing number of studies in humans indicate that [cannabis] exposure during development can cause long-term or possibly permanent adverse changes in the brain,” say NIDA officials.

Despite these negative claims, scientists have discovered that the plant’s derivatives (cannabinoids) may possess therapeutic potential; a primary driver for 33 U.S. states already having legalized cannabis for medical purposes. In order to get Missouri’s adult-use proposal on the ballot measure, the same coalition that worked to legalize medical cannabis in the state must collect 160,199 verified signatures within the next 3 months.