Cannabis is now legal for adults in Missouri, although legal sales of recreational marijuana are still months away. Missouri voters legalized adult-use cannabis with the approval of Amendment 3 in the November midterm elections, joining 20 other states that have also ended the prohibition on recreational weed.
Amendment 3, which received 53% of the vote in last month’s election, amends the Missouri Constitution to legalize recreational marijuana for adults and strengthens the state’s existing medical marijuana program. The successful ballot measure officially went into effect on Thursday, making possession of up to three ounces of cannabis by adults aged 21 and older legal under state law.
In 2014, state lawmakers passed legislation to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis, and in 2018, Missouri voters approved an amendment ballot measure to legalize medical marijuana in the state.
Missouri Rec Sales Coming Next Year
Under Amendment 3, the state’s existing medical marijuana dispensaries will be the first businesses licensed to make recreational cannabis sales, which are expected to begin early next year. John Payne, campaign manager for Legal Missouri 2022, the group behind Amendment 3, said that sales of cannabis are only permitted “within the regulated system,” but he noted that simple possession of marijuana is legal as of Thursday.
“The decriminalization aspects do not hinge on licensed sales existing,” Payne said.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is currently in the process of drafting regulations to govern the adult-use cannabis industry and will begin accepting applications for comprehensive retailers – those selling both medical marijuana and adult-use cannabis – on Saturday. The DHSS is required to begin awarding comprehensive licenses to current medical marijuana dispensaries by February 6, making that the earliest date regulated sales of adult-use cannabis can begin in Missouri.
In a statement, DHSS Spokesperson Lisa Cox reminded Missourians that legal sales of recreational marijuana will take some time to launch.
“It’s just our commitment that we regulate this program as best we can to keep people safe and healthy. That’s our goal,” Cox said in a statement, adding that consumers should familiarize themselves with Amendment 3 and its potential impact on individuals and communities.
Amendment 3 contains provisions to expunge some past cannabis-related convictions. Under the measure, those with previous convictions for nonviolent marijuana-related charges will have their records reviewed by the courts, with qualified convictions slated to be expunged by June 8, 2023.
Although Amendment 3 legalizes cannabis for all adults 21 and older, the University of Missouri System announced on Wednesday that marijuana would still be prohibited on all four of its campuses.
“Possession and use of marijuana remains subject to many limitations under both constitutional amendment and federal law,” the university system wrote in a statement. “Following a review of the federal Drug-Free Schools and Community Act and Drug-Free Workplace Act, the University of Missouri System will continue to prohibit the possession, use and distribution of marijuana on any university property, university-leased property and as part of university-sponsored or university-supervised activities.”
Amendment Enhances Medical Cannabis Program
Amendment 3 also includes provisions to enhance Missouri’s existing medical marijuana program. Patients will see an increase in the monthly amount of cannabis they can legally purchase at licensed dispensaries from four ounces to six ounces. Additionally, medical marijuana patient identification cards will now be valid for a period of three years rather than being subject to annual renewal requirements.
“Patient applications processed as of this date (Dec. 8) and forward will be valid for three years,” Cox said. “Current ID holders will retain their existing expiration dates, which will not change due to Amendment 3 passing.”
Dan Viets, a co-author of Amendment 3 and coordinator for the Missouri chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), noted the significance of cannabis becoming legal in a statement from the cannabis advocacy group.
“December 8th is a historic date for Missourians,” said Viets. “Most of the 20,000 annual marijuana arrests in our state will end on that date. Instead, adults will be able to legally possess up to three ounces of cannabis, and soon will also have the option to grow up to 18 plants or purchase cannabis products tested for purity and potency from licensed retailers.”