Cannabis advocates in Missouri are trying to get their state to legalize cannabis. They are currently working to gather enough signatures to get a legalization proposal on the ballot.
Is Missouri Going To Make Weed Legal?
The proposal currently being advanced calls for Missouri to legalize both recreational and medical cannabis. Advocates are working to gather signatures from those who support the idea. If they can get enough people to sign it, the proposal could be included on the November 2018 state ballot.
The proposal would be a dramatic change to Missouri’s cannabis laws, which have been relatively slow to evolve.
Also that year, the state took steps toward decriminalizing weed. The state made it so that first-time offenders arrested for cannabis cannot serve jail time. Although this change passed in 2014, it did not go into effect until the beginning of this year.
If the current bill eventually passes, it would make Missouri the ninth state to legalize recreational weed. Colorado and Washington both voted to legalize in 2012. Oregon, Alaska, and Washington, D.C. voted to make it legal in 2014. Then last fall, California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts all legalized recreational cannabis.
An Unusual Proposal
The new Missouri proposal has some unusual features. For starters, it does not put an age limit on who can access and use weed. Similarly, it would make it so that police could not punish people for driving under the influence of weed.
For the group of citizens who drafted the proposal, all of this would ensure legal protection for those who want to use cannabis.
By avoiding age limits, advocates believe their bill would allow people of all ages to use cannabis for medical purposes. But they also told local sources they are “not advocating the recreational sales to minors by any stretch.”
Similarly, proposal advocates think that police should not be able to stop or search people suspected of driving while high.
“We think that if they believe that if somebody is driving under the influence . . . then they use that as a way to . . . do a search and call that reasonable cause,” said Steve Leck, who helped write the proposal.
“We’ve actually heard the story have red eyes from allergies. All of a sudden they are being pulled over, their rights are being violated, their car is being searched. If we eliminate that, we can keep intact some of our guaranteed by both the state and the U.S. Constitution.”
The current proposal also:
- Questions if Missouri law enforcement should be allowed to help enforce federal cannabis laws.
- Calls for the release of anybody in jail or on parole or probation for non-violent cannabis crimes.
- Calls on the state to clear the criminal records of anyone convicted of a non-violent cannabis crime.
- Prohibits the state from taxing medical cannabis if it’s been prescribed by a doctor.
The Final Hit
The activists who wrote the proposal think that legalizing would save Missouri more than $10 million every year. They also estimate that enforcing the proposed changes would cost the state somewhere around $700,000 annually.
There is currently widespread popular support for cannabis throughout the U.S. Recent surveys found that 89 percent of Americans support medical marijuana. Additionally, 54 percent are in favor of making recreational weed legal.