State officials in Missouri recently announced that residents in the state will decide in November whether to legalize recreational marijuana. A group called Legal Missouri 2022 collected more than enough signatures from voters to put the Missouri marijuana legalization initiative on the ballot.
The group that led the ballot initiative includes many of the same people who successfully put legal medical marijuana on the Missouri ballot in 2018. Passage of the 2022 initiative would essentially remove the current state ban on the manufacturing, sale and consumption of cannabis for recreational use.
Unlike other places that have struggled to clear past marijuana arrests, the ballot initiative also expunges any past criminal record for Missouri residents that involved weed-related, nonviolent crimes. Those who have such a crime on their record will not have to petition the court. It will just be removed automatically if the measure passes, according to the Kansas City Star.
The Current Missouri Marijuana Laws
As with everything concerning marijuana laws, there’s a patchwork of rules in place in Missouri that differ from other states. There are also differences within some cities.
For example, Missouri state law has partially decriminalized marijuana possession. Currently, a person caught by police with 10 grams or less is fined $500. They may also receive a criminal misdemeanor charge. If arrested a second time on the same charge, they may face one year in jail or a $2,000 fine.
Those suspected of selling marijuana could, if convicted, face a felony charge and a four-year prison sentence.
The City of Kansas City takes a different approach. In 2020, the city removed marijuana possession from the city’s criminal code. In practice, this means Kansas City police are not supposed to arrest people for marijuana possession. They can, however, issue a ticket for someone who violates state law or is planning to distribute cannabis.
What the New Marijuana Law Would Do
The ballot initiative voters will see on Nov. 8 allows people 21 and older to purchase and possess up to three ounces of cannabis. It also would:
- Allow those 21 and older to grow up to six cannabis plants, six immature plants and six clones if they obtain a state registration card.
- Imposes a six percent tax on recreational cannabis sales
- Mandates use of revenue to fund automatic expungements for people with nonviolent marijuana offenses on their records.
- Directs the remainder of tax money to fund veterans’ healthcare, substance misuse treatment and the state’s public defender system.
Missouri voters will not be alone in November. Legalization proposals are on the ballot in Maryland and South Dakota (for the second time in the case of South Dakota). Measures in Arkansas, North Dakota and Oklahoma may also make the ballot.