Missouri Organizers Begin Signature Drive for Ballot Measure to Legalize Pot

Last week, organizers started a ballot initiative to make Missouri the 19th U.S. state to legalize recreational marijuana use.

Legal Missouri 2022The organization behind the measure,, hopes to collect enough signatures to put the initiative on the November ballot. in time for next year’s midterm elections. If passed, all adults over 21 years of age will be legally able to purchase cannabis products at licensed dispensaries located within the state.

According to reporting from St. Louis Public Radio, organizers will have to gather around 170,000 signaturesIn total. In order to comply with the rules regarding initiatives, a certain amount of signatures must be collected. in at least six of the state’s eight congressional districts before a deadline in May.

If the proposal is included on the ballot for voters to decide on, it’s likely that the measure could pass and become law. Missouri is a conservative state. voters backed former President Donald Trump by more than 15 pointsIn 2020, Joe Biden was beaten by him. However, a similar ballot initiative, legalizing medicinal cannabis, was also introduced. passed with the support of 66 percent of voters in 2018.

If passed, the initiative’s impact would go beyondIt would simply make marijuana legal. It would also remove existing restrictions on people convicted of felony offenses. This would allow some individuals to own and run dispensaries. Additionally, the initiative would create a program that automatically expunges nonviolent marijuana-related convictions.

The state program now has 144 commercial cannabis licenses. Only one third of the new licenses would be granted for retail businesses that sell the drug. Existing medical marijuana license holders would be able to convert to sell the drug to recreational users.

The initiative would also expand the rights currently in place for medicinal purposes. If the initiative is passed, individuals will be able to get recommendations for medical marajuana treatment from nurses practitioners and not just doctors. This change will result in the following: patients may be able to save $100 or more in costs associated with getting medicinal permissionTo use cannabis.

Activisms have pointed out that the medicinal law must be kept in place as it allows patients to receive a higher dosage of medication if they require it.

Although the ballot initiative has positive odds of becoming law some lawmakers want legalization efforts to go through the legislature instead. Gov. Mike Parson (R) has noted that if the legalization initiative is included on the ballot, it is “probably going to pass.” But he’s expressed a preference for the law being passed in a typical manner, to avoid regulatory problems that cameAbout after the 2018 legalization of medical marijuana.

Activists pushing for the initiative, like John Payne, the campaign manager for Legal Missouri 2022, have noted that it’s “wishful thinking” to believe the GOP-run legislature would pass any kind of meaningful bill legalizing recreational use of cannabis.

“I know there are certainly legislators who will support that and work towards it” in the legislature, Payne said to St. Louis Public Radio. “But from what I’ve seen with the leadership of the House and the Senate currently, that is unlikely to happen.”

There’s also a risk that anti-legalization lawmakers would try to block the law from being implemented, similar to what took place in the state after a ballot initiative seeking to expand Medicaid eligibility successfully passed in 2020. After the measure was passed, Republican lawmakers tried blocking its implementationThe Missouri state budget was void of any provisions that would have allowed for the expansion.

The Missouri Supreme Court later ruled in that favor. the law was constitutional and had to be enforced. Medicaid expansion officially began in Missouri in OctoberThe state has expanded services to approximately 275,000 residents.