Missouri lawmaker proposes legislation to place recreational cannabis on 2022 ballot

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Legislation recently filed by Missouri Rep. Shamed Dogan  could result in an adult-use cannabis legalization measure being placed on the state’s 2020 ballot. 

House Joint Resolution 30 is a constitutional amendment that would eradicate the 2018 constitutional amendment’s text as a means of easing licensing requirements and establishing a recreational cannabis market; all the while ensuring that Missouri’s medical cannabis program remains unaffected. 

Based on the details of Dogan’s proposal, adult-use cannabis business owners in Missouri would be able to set-up their stores in accordance with the same licensing process that medical cannabis retailers follow. 

Missouri’s adult-use cannabis legalization measure would release non-violent cannabis offender and impose taxes

Aside from the proposed rule stipulating that recreational cannabis retailers can launch a business with the same licensing approach as medical cannabis business owners, House Joint Resolution 30 would also prompt the state to free incarcerated individuals who have been put behind bars for committing “non-violent, [cannabis] only offenses that are no longer illegal in the state of Missouri.” 

No more than 60 days after the ballot measure’s prospective passing, Missouri courts would be required to expunge cannabis-related criminal records. Not only will incarcerated individuals have the opportunity to be released from federal prisons but also, they could skip the tedious probation and parole requirements for such offenses. 

In the event that Missouri’s latest adult-use cannabis legalization measure passes, a 12 percent tax would be imposed on adult-use cannabis. Meanwhile, medical cannabis sales would be imposed with a four percent tax. All tax-related revenue will be used to benefit the Smarter and Safer Missouri Fund — a reserve focused on providing support to drug treatment programs, infrastructure programs and the Missouri Veterans Commission.

Pro-cannabis movement is also pushing for adult-use cannabis legalization in Missouri

Another effort to speed up cannabis legalization in Missouri comes from an advocacy group called Missourians for a New Approach. Lobbyists from the group recently announced their plans to propose a cannabis legalization initiative at the 2022 ballot.

Missourians for a New Approach, which was established in 2019, has been trying to get adult-use cannabis under the nose of lawmakers for quite some time. Last year, the group attempted to put the issue in front of voters. Unfortunately, the team of advocates were defeated in their signature campaign, which struggled to gain the necessary amount of signatures amid COVID-19 distancing measures. 

“Unfortunately, while there is widespread support from Missourians to tax and regulate [cannabis], there is currently no practical way during the COVID-19 outbreak to safely gather the 170,000 plus signatures needed over the remaining four weeks to put our initiative on the Missouri ballot in 2020,” said the group’s campaign manager, John Payne, during an interview with Marijuana Moment. “We know Missourians want this and our supporters from every corner of this state will be back next cycle to put this on the 2022 ballot and finally bring Missouri the benefits of a safe and regulated adult-use [cannabis] program.”

According to the group, people have the right to grow cannabis; a market that the advocates say could help to develop “a healthy and consumer-friendly, regulated and taxed commercial cannabis industry.”