Legal Missouri 2022 citizens’ initiative petition tops 325,000 signatures

 

Adult-use marijuana legalization campaign enters final days of voter signature collection as Sunday submission deadline approaches 

The citizens’ initiative campaign to legalize adult-use marijuana in Missouri and automatically expunge criminal records for most prior, nonviolent marijuana offenses has collected more than 325,000 voter signatures on its path to the 2022 ballot.

By Sunday’s deadline, Legal Missouri 2022 expects to turn in nearly twice as many signatures from registered voters as the roughly 170,000 to 180,000 valid signatures required by the Missouri Secretary of State to qualify for a statewide election later this year, said campaign manager John Payne.

“From Hannibal to Joplin, St. Joseph to Springfield, St. Louis, Kansas City and all points between, voters across our great state are ready to make Missouri the 20th to regulate, tax and legalize marijuana for adult use,” Payne said.

“We’re confident that our historic signature count provides the necessary cushion to qualify for the ballot,” he added. “But we’re not taking any chances, and will continue to pound the pavement these next several days to ensure our proposal exceeds the required threshold.”

The proposed constitutional amendment would allow Missourians ages 21 and older to possess, consume, purchase, and cultivate marijuana. A 6 percent retail sales tax would generate estimated annual revenue of at least $40.8 million and additional local government revenues of at least $13.8 million, a state fiscal analysis projects.

Based on current medical marijuana sales, though — the market is on track to exceed $300 million in sales this year—  the public fiscal benefit could potentially be four or five times higher.

Those public dollars, in turn, would cover program costs including expungement, with remaining funds reserved for veterans’ services, drug addiction treatment and the state’s severely underfunded public defender system.

The automatic expungement provision doesn’t apply to violent offenders or those whose offenses involved distribution to a minor or operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana.

If passed, the LegalMo22 proposal would make Missouri the first state in nation where voters initiated automatic expungement for past cannabis convictions. Among the 19 states to have legalized adult use, just seven have automatic expungement.

The initiative petition’s automatic expungement provision has drawn endorsements from the ACLU of Missouri, the Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Empower Missouri, Reale Justice Network, Missouri NORML, and the St. Louis City, St. Louis County and St. Charles County chapters of the NAACP, among other supporters.

The Legal Missouri 2022 initiative also seeks to broaden participation in the legal cannabis industry by small business owners and among historically disadvantaged populations, including those with limited capital, residents of high-poverty communities, service-disabled veterans and those previously convicted of non-violent marijuana offenses, among others.

A new category of cannabis licenses reserved for small businesses would, over time, add a minimum of 144 licensed facilities to the existing 378 licensed and certified cannabis businesses in the state: 18 in each of the state’s eight congressional districts, with at least six per district operating as dispensaries and the remainder designated as wholesale facilities.

This new category of licenses allows operators to both cultivate the plant and manufacture cannabis products. The new license holders would be selected at random, by lottery.

A copy of the Legal Missouri 2022 petition can be found here.

 

Petition Highlights:

  • Allows Missourians 21 years and older to possess, purchase, consume and cultivate marijuana.
  • Levies state taxes of 6 percent on retail sales of marijuana. New revenue funds regulatory program and costs to process automatic expungements, with the surplus split equally among veterans’ services, drug addiction treatment, and Missouri’s underfunded public defender system.
  • Allows local governments to assess local sales taxes of up to 3 percent.
  •  Allows local communities to opt out of adult use retail marijuana sales through a vote of the people. 
  •  Strengthens Missouri’s medical marijuana program. The petition extends the amount of time that medical marijuana patient and caregiver ID cards are valid from one to three years while keeping that cost low ($25). And the current $100 fee for Missourians who choose to grow medical marijuana at home will be reduced by half, with the expiration period also extended from one to three years.
  • Provides employment discrimination protection for medical patients, preventing them from being denied employment or being disciplined or fired for off-the-job medical marijuana use.
  • Adds nurse practitioners to the category of healthcare professionals who can issue medical cannabis recommendations to patients.

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Paid for by Legal Missouri 2022, Paul Bocci, Treasurer.