December marks the beginning of the pre-filing period for Missouri’s Legislature, and this year representatives have already pre-filed seven bills that could change the way marijuana is handled in Missouri. The filings range from tax credits for dispensary businesses owned by minorities, women, or service-disabled veterans to a proposal for a constitutional amendment that would legalize adult-use in Missouri. The legislation is sponsored by familiar faces as Rep. Ashley Aune, D – Kansas City,  Rep. Ron Hicks, R-St. Peters, Rep. Mark Ellebracht, D-Liberty, and Rep. Shamed Dogan, R-Ballwin, have all introduced legislation pertaining to marijuana in recent years.

 

Representative Aune introduced HB 1726, a bill that would authorize a tax credit for businesses owned by minorities, women, or service-disabled veterans who obtain a medical marijuana dispensary license. 

“The language was originally introduced by former Representative Jon Carpenter, and when I joined the legislature, I decided to carry the torch, so to speak,” Aune told Greenway. “As you know, the rollout of medical cannabis in our state was disappointing on many levels – especially in terms of equity and transparency in the business licensure process. This bill provides one way in which certain groups of business owners who may have been disproportionately under-represented – and who have had historically less access to capital due to systemic barriers – can remain competitive,” she explained.

Aune also stated that she plans to reintroduce HB 1325 this year, the bill modifies provisions relating to patients legally participating in the  Missouri medical marijuana program in family court matters. It allows for family court participants to safely and legally use medical marijuana without repercussions from the court. The bill was unanimously passed out of committee and was close to crossing the finish line in the most recent session. Aune attributed part of that success to working across party lines with Representative Ron Hicks. “Representative Ron Hicks helped me move (HB1325) forward last year and I look forward to working with him again to make progress on the issue.”

 

For his part, Rep. Hicks has introduced both HB 1658, the “Reduction of Illegal Public Consumption by Allowing for Compassionate Access to 3 Medical Marijuana Act,” which would require the Department of Health and Senior Services to establish a statewide medical marijuana lodging establishment licensing system, and HB 1659, which calls for the automatic expungement for those convicted of an offense or municipal violation relating to the possession of marijuana before August 28, 2022, provided they have obtained a medical marijuana patient identification card before August 28, 2022. The bill also removes the limit on the number of expungements for marijuana-related misdemeanor offenses or ordinance violations. Hicks has been a vocal supporter of cannabis and patients’ rights during his career.

 

Rep. Mark Ellebracht also proposed two pieces of legislation focusing on medical marijuana in Missouri. The first, HB 1523, adds a new section to state statute which would make it a felony to disclose the information of medical marijuana patients to unauthorized parties. 

“191.255. 1. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, no state agency, including employees therein, shall disclose to the federal government, any federal government employee, or any unauthorized third party the statewide list or any individual information of persons who have applied for or obtained a qualifying patient identification card, a qualifying patient cultivation identification card, or a primary caregiver identification card, as those cards are described in Article XIV, Section 1 of the Constitution of Missouri relating to the right to access medical marijuana. 2. Any violation of this section is a class E felony”

 

Ellebracht also pre-filed HB 1537, which amends chapter 559, RSMo, establishing provisions relating to the legal possession or use of medical marijuana by those on probation or parole that have a valid medical marijuana card. 

“559.023. Notwithstanding any provision of law, the lawful possession or use of medical marijuana by a person possessing a valid medical marijuana card, as authorized under Article XIV, Section 1 of the Constitution of Missouri, shall not result in any punitive action with regard to such person’s probation or parole status. No conditions of probation or parole shall consist of restricting the possession or use of medical marijuana by persons possessing valid medical marijuana cards, and no revocation or extension of probation or parole shall be imposed as a consequence of the lawful possession or use of medical marijuana under the law of this state.”

 

The issue of the ability of those on probation or parole to use medical marijuana, even with a certification and a state authorization, is something that has troubled Missouri patients and employees within The Division of Probation and Parole since the program began approving patient applications in 2019. One source told Greenway that the level of uncertainty and a lack of clarity has forced uniform denial of requests from those patients by nearly every Probation and Parole employee.

 

Representative Lane Roberts, R-Joplin, pre-filed HB 1736 – a bill that modifies the wording and provisions of 195.815, RSMo, relating to medical marijuana facilities and specifically adding a definition for the term “contractor.”

 

Rep. Shamed Dogan was recognized by Greenway readers as Legislative Ally of the Year in 2021

Dogan has been openly critical of the War on Drugs and its impact on communities of color – he has also championed decriminalization and legalization multiple times, including filing a legalization bill in 2021.

Dogan’s pre-filing for 2022, HJR 83, again, proposes a constitutional amendment legalizing marijuana for adult use. HJR 83 mimics much of the language from the prior proposal and is again called the Smarter and Safer Missouri Act

“This initiative will increase personal freedom, allow law enforcement to focus on violent crime instead of nonviolent marijuana users, and provide revenue for infrastructure, broadband, and drug treatment. I am confident Missouri voters will support these commonsense ideas when they have the opportunity to vote on adult use,” Dogan told Greenway last year.

Among other things, HJR 83 dictates that marijuana be immediately removed from the Missouri revised statutes’ list of controlled substances and will no longer be listed among Missouri’s drug schedules. Removing marijuana from consideration as a controlled substance or drug.

The proposal would see marijuana become legal for adult use of those age 21 and over. It also requires that all marijuana sold in this state shall be subject to testing, labeling, and regulation.

HJR 83 sets forth an adult-use tax rate of 12% and maintains the 4% medical tax already in existence and calls for the creation of the “Smarter and Safer Missouri Fund.”

Many of the most compelling parts of the resolution are found in the components pertaining to justice reform, upon passage all persons incarcerated or under the supervision of the Missouri Board of Probation and Parole for nonviolent, marijuana-only offenses that are no longer illegal in the state of Missouri under the corresponding new section of law would be immediately released and no longer subject to supervision. It also calls for the development of a legal document ordering the immediate destruction of all marijuana-related, nonviolent civil and criminal records in Missouri and for any offense covered by the applicable section that is no longer illegal in the state of Missouri under this section, the document would be made available to the public. HJR 83 also designates the immediate expungement of civil and criminal records pertaining to all nonviolent, marijuana-only offenses no longer illegal in the state.

Legislative Session begins Wednesday, January 5, 2022. Read the full text of HJR 83 below:

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