A marijuana legalization campaign submitted signatures for a Missouri ballot initiative on Sunday. Legal Missouri 2022, the PAC supporting the initiative, stated that it submitted more than 385,000 petition signatures. If enough signatures are verified, the initiative will appear on the ballot this November.
If implemented, the measure would legalize marijuana possession and use for anyone over 21 years of age. It would also legalize the purchase, delivery, manufacturing, and sale of marijuana and enact a 6% tax on marijauna sales. The proposal would allow those who have been convicted of non-violent marijuana crimes to petition for their release from prison or expungement of their records.
The measure received support from the ACLU of Missouri, NAACP St. Louis City, as well as MoCannTrade, an association of marijuana business owners. “Cannabis reform is about more than establishing a safe and legal market. It is about righting the many wrongs prohibition has caused to our communities, especially communities of color,” said Jamie Kacz, executive director of NORML KC.
Some marijuana legalization advocates have made arguments critical of the ballot measure, saying that the measure’s licensing provisions exclude entrepreneurs and favor existing businesses with medical licenses. “There is no reason why Missouri entrepreneurs, and particularly in minority communities, shouldn’t have full access to commercial licensing opportunities,” said Tim Gilio of the Missouri Marijuana Legalization Movement.
Representative Ron Hicks, a Republican, introduced a bill to legalize marijuana in Missouri, saying, “It’s coming. Whether we file legislation or not, it’s coming.” He argued that the legislature, not an initiated constitutional amendment, should legalize marijuana. “If it comes through the legislature, it can be fixed immediately. You don’t have to go gathering signatures or anything like that. I would like to see this as a law and not an initiative petition,” said Rep. Hicks.
If enough signatures are verified, it will make the ballot this November in Missouri. The minimum requirement of verified signatures needed to appear on the ballot in Missouri is calculated by 8% of the votes cast for governor in the previous gubernatorial election in six of the eight state congressional districts. The smallest possible requirement is 171,592. Often, campaigns collect beyond the signature requirement in case there are errors with some of the signatures submitted. Once these signatures are filed, they are sent to county election authorities to be verified.
In Missouri, 31 initiatives have appeared on the ballot from 1996 to 2020. Out of these 31 measures, 19 (59.4%) were approved and 13 (40.6%) were defeated.
Currently, there are three measures on the November 2022 ballot in Missouri, which are:
- Amendment 1, which would authorize the state treasurer to invest in highly rated municipal securities
- A Department of the National Guard Amendment, which would give the Missouri National Guard its own department
- A constitutional convention question, which asks voters whether to hold a state constitutional convention.