Missouri’s state constitution will have a new entry this week, with the voter-approved recreational cannabis amendment slated to be added on Thursday.
The Springfield News-Leader reports that while Amendment 3, which was approved by Missouri voters in last month’s election, will be added to the state constitution this week, “Missourians won’t be impacted by the majority of its legislation until next year.”
“At the earliest, recreational marijuana will be available for purchase in February. And though some non-violent marijuana offenses will be automatically expunged this week, this isn’t the case for all,” according to the News-Leader.
Voters in Missouri approved Amendment 3 last month by a vote of 53% to 47%.
The leadup to the vote was shrouded in uncertainty for supporters of the amendment. It wasn’t until August that Missouri’s secretary of state confirmed that Amendment 3 had qualified for the ballot.
There were questions in the summer surrounding the petitions submitted by Legal Missouri 2022, the group behind the amendment.
State law requires a petition to include signatures from 8% of registered voters in six of Missouri’s eight congressional districts.
The state’s secretary of state, Jay Ashcroft, confirmed in August that Legal Missouri had easily cleared the signature threshold.
“Our statewide coalition of activists, business owners, medical marijuana patients and criminal justice reform advocates has worked tirelessly to reach this point, and deserves all the credit,” John Payne, campaign manager of Legal Missouri 2022, said in a statement at the time. “Our campaign volunteers collected 100,000 signatures, on top of paid signature collection. That outpouring of grassroots support among Missourians who want to legalize, tax and regulate cannabis made all the difference. We look forward to engaging with voters across the state in the coming weeks and months. Missourians are more than ready to end the senseless and costly prohibition of marijuana.”
But even after the amendment qualified, it appeared far from a sure thing that it would pass in November. Polls in the weeks leading up to Election Day painted a messy picture. One survey conducted in September found 48% of voters in Missouri supported Amendment 3, while 35% of voters in the state were opposed, and another 17% were unsure.
But another poll conducted around the same period showed that 43% of respondents were in support of Amendment 3, while 47% were opposed, and 10% were unsure.
In the end, however, the amendment prevailed, and now Missouri is slated to become the latest in a growing number of states to legalize recreational pot use for adults and establish a regulated retail market.
The Springfield News-Leader provided a rundown of what the amendment will accomplish: “Remove state prohibitions on purchasing, possessing, consuming, using, delivering, manufacturing and selling marijuana for personal use for adults over 21; Require a registration card for personal cultivation with prescribed limits; Allow persons with certain marijuana-related non-violent offenses to petition for release from incarceration or parole and probation and have records cleared; Establish a lottery selection process to award licenses and certificates; Issue equally distributed licenses to each congressional district; and Impose a 6% tax on the retail price of marijuana to benefit various programs.”
The newspaper said that the “earliest recreational marijuana will be available to Missourians who are 21 and up is February 2023.”
“Pre-established medical marijuana facilities will have the opportunity to convert their licenses to comprehensive marijuana facility licenses, meaning they can cultivate or sell both medical and recreational marijuana. The Department of Health and Senior Services must begin awarding these license conversions by Feb. 6, 2023,” the News-Leader reported. “Aside from medical marijuana facilities that are converted to comprehensive marijuana facilities, DHSS must license at least two comprehensive marijuana dispensaries in each of the state’s eight congressional districts, initially. These dispensaries will begin receiving licenses to sell recreational marijuana on Sept. 4, 2023.”