Adult-use marijuana legalization campaign ramps up outreach, calls for support as submission deadline nears
With a deadline fast approaching, the citizens’ initiative campaign to legalize adult-use marijuana in Missouri and automatically expunge criminal records for most prior, nonviolent marijuana offenses has cleared a major hurdle on its path to the 2022 ballot.
Legal Missouri 2022 on Tuesday announced that campaign workers and volunteers have collected more than 200,000 voter signatures to date as outreach efforts escalate ahead of the May 8 signature submission deadline.
“This tremendous reception from voters across our state makes us confident that Missourians will have the opportunity later this year to vote on becoming the 20th state to regulate, tax and legalize marijuana for adult use,” said Legal Missouri 2022 campaign manager John Payne.
“But to be clear, this is not a done deal. While the number of signatures collected already exceeds the legal minimum required to qualify for the ballot, our campaign will continue to collaborate with voters in the coming days and weeks to collect the tens of thousands of additional signatures needed 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 likely much higher) and additional local government revenues of at least $13.8 million, a state fiscal analysis projects.
That money, 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.
The LegalMo22 proposal, if passed, would make Missouri the first state in nation where voters approved automatic expungement for past cannabis convictions. Among the 19 states to have legalized adult use, just seven have automatic expungement.
Campaign signature collectors are close to wrapping up efforts in several congressional districts, Payne said, with organizers planning to focus on more targeted voter outreach in the remaining 19 days.
Supporters who want to sign the petition at one of the campaign’s 160-plus statewide public signing locations should do so in the next week, said Payne.
In Missouri, a citizens’ initiative petition proposing a state constitutional amendment must submit valid voter signatures equal to 8 percent of the votes cast for governor in the most recent election in at least six of the state’s eight congressional districts. That works out to roughly 170,000 to 180,000 valid signatures as authenticated by the Missouri Secretary of State.
The initiative petition’s emphasis on automatic expungement of criminal records for past nonviolent marijuana offenses has earned 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.
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.
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.
Paid for by Legal Missouri 2022, Paul Bocci, Treasurer.