A collection of activists filed a ballot initiative late last month hoping to make Missouri the 20th state to legalize recreational marijuana.

John Payne, the campaign manager for the group, said the petition has a strong focus on criminal justice reform.

“There’s widespread support among Missouri voters to regulate, tax and legalize marijuana,” Payne said. “The status quo has allowed an unsafe, illegal market to thrive in Missouri while preventing law enforcement from truly prioritizing the fight against violent crime.”

Missouri voters passed a medical marijuana initiative in 2018. A majority of Buchanan County voters approved that measure.

Since then, a dispensary and cultivation facility have opened in St. Joseph. The ballot initiative filed by Legal Missouri 2022 would expand marijuana access to the general public.

Under the current law, Missourians must obtain a medical marijuana license via a qualifying condition. Some 56,000 of those cards were issued in the medical marijuana program’s last year.

Under the proposed initiative, any Missourian 21 years or older would be able to possess, consume and cultivate marijuana. There would be a 6% sales tax that Legal Missouri 2022 said would generate “millions of dollars” annually.

Tax dollars raised would go to fund veterans’ health care, addiction treatment and the state’s public defender system.

Some Missourians with marijuana-related offenses would have their court records automatically expunged if the new initiative passes. In a press release, Legal Missouri 2022 said the expungement provision wouldn’t apply to violent offenders or those charged with operating a motor vehicle while high.

If the ballot initiative’s language is approved by the state, Legal Missouri 2022 will need to collect some 175,000 signatures to put the initiative on the general election ballot in November of 2022.


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