Missouri’s Proposed Amendment 3 Could Let Voters Legalize Recreational Cannabis

When Missourians head to the ballots this November, they’ll be the ones who make the final decision on whether or not to legalize recreational cannabis. Suppose voters support the initiated Missouri Amendment 3. In that case, that means they want to legalize the personal use of cannabis for adults over 21, and to give those convicted of marijuana-related charges the ability to petition to have their convictions overturned and their records expunged.

The proposed Missouri constitutional amendment, if enacted by the voters, would also establish licensing regulations for businesses to sell cannabis. The state would implement a sales tax of 6% on the price of marijuana. Local governments could also determine whether or not to permit the sale of recreational cannabis in their communities through either a ballot measure or a citizen petition.

According to polling data provided by Missouri NORML, 62% of Missouri voters support the initiative to legalize the recreational use of cannabis in Missouri and to allow for this specific reform of the criminal justice system.

Nineteen states have already legalized the recreational use of cannabis, while thirty-nine states have legalized the medicinal use of cannabis. Missouri became one of these states in 2018 when most Missourians voted in favor of Amendment 2. Missouri is also one of the thirteen states that decriminalized the possession of a small amount of marijuana. In Missouri, possession of fewer than ten grams is punishable by a fine only, and the offense is classified as a criminal misdemeanor.

Supporters Celebrate Criminal Justice Reform

Those who support the enactment of Missouri Amendment 3 argue that this measure will be a game-changer for marginalized communities, particularly black and brown people in Missouri, like Luz María Henríquez, executive director of the ACLU of Missouri. Henríquez told Ty Albright from KZRG News, “To combat the racial disparities rampant in marijuana-related arrests, our organization remains committed to opposing laws which criminalize adult use of marijuana and supporting automatic expungement of marijuana-related offenses.”

The President of the St. Louis county NAACP, John Bowman, shares the same sentiment. “Missouri shouldn’t legalize marijuana without automatically expunging thousands of criminal records for marijuana offenses that will soon be legal,” Bowman shared with Cameron Gerber from the Missouri Times. “We enthusiastically support this ballot initiative, which will be the single largest criminal justice reform undertaken in Missouri and is long overdue.”

In fact, according to a 2020 study conducted by the ACLU, black and brown people in Missouri are 2.6 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis-related crimes than their white counterparts. Advocates for Amendment 3 believe enacting the measure will contribute to essential criminal justice reform for historically marginalized communities in Missouri.

Opposition on Both Sides

There are a few different reasons why people oppose the enactment of Missouri Amendment 3. Missouri’s Republican Governor Mike Parson believes the amendment is problematic because it is too difficult for lay people to understand. Parson told the Kansas City Star, “I think that thing’s a disaster. I guarantee you this has been written probably by lawyers, and none of us in this state is going to be able to understand 450 pages of what it all means.”

It’s unclear what 450-page document Parson is referring to because the proposed Amendment is 39 pages long, while the ballot question itself is brief and easily fits on one page.

Other opponents argue that the amendment sets up medical distributors for success while alienating new business endeavors. The Missouri Marijuana Legalization Movement’s Tim Gilio said in a statement to KZRG News, “There is no reason why Missouri entrepreneurs, particularly in minority communities, shouldn’t have full access to commercial licensing opportunities,” Gilio said. “The LM22 “microlicense” approach is a second-class, Jim Crow proposal.”

Campaign Finance: The Numbers

The initiative’s sponsor, the Legal Missouri 2022 PAC, raised $2.84 million in support of Amendment 3. The largest donation came from the New Approach Advocacy Fund, a Washington, D.C.-based PAC dedicated to funding campaigns to end the war on drugs. They donated $300,000 in support of Legal Missouri 2022.

The other donors who contributed to the campaign fund are primarily medical dispensaries in Missouri. Good Day Farm Missouri LLC, an established medical marijuana dispensary in Missouri, donated $250,000 to the LM22 fund. Two other companies that run medical dispensaries in the state, New Growth Horizon LLC and Green Four Ventures LLC, donated $247,500 and $177,500, respectively.

The final donor was B.D. Health Ventures LLC, a company dedicated to creating physician-led medical groups to help doctors stay up-to-date and connect with others in the field. B.D. Health Ventures donated $250,000 to the campaign to legalize recreational cannabis in Missouri.

On November 8, Missouri voters will decide whether or not to welcome legal cannabis into their state and reform a section of their criminal justice system.

This article was produced by Wealth of Geeks.

Maya (she/they) is a professional freelance writer and editor. Her writing is featured in TransLash News & Narrative, Healthline’s Bezzy Depression, HorrorPress, the Episodes Newsletter, and more. They’re passionate about social justice, history, and entertainment journalism. In her free time, she loves binging horror movies, spending time with her girlfriend, and needle-felting monster sculptures.

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