On Thursday, Marijuana advocates in Missouri officially launched a campaign to put adult-use marijuana legalization on the November ballot.
The measure requires 160,199 valid signatures to be entered in the 2020 ballot, and Missourians for a New Approach announced that they have started collecting the signatures to qualify the measure. Their announcement comes a month after the secretary of state certified the ballot titles and gave the go-ahead for signature collection.
The legislation provides that individuals aged 21 and above would be permitted to carry and purchase marijuana from licensed retailers. They could also grow a maximum of three plants for personal consumption.
The measure also provides that all marijuana sales would be subjected to a 15% tax, and proceeds from the tax would be used to fund veteran services, drug misuse treatment, and prevention projects. According to the state fiscal analysis estimation, by 2025, a regulated marijuana market would be able to generate $155 million yearly.
The legislation would also allow for the expungement and resentencing of people previously convicted of marijuana-related crimes.
The Missourians for a New Approach campaign manager John Payne said in a press release that eleven other states, including neighboring Illinois, have successfully regulated and taxed recreational marijuana, enabling those states to benefit from taxes on marijuana sales. Payne further said that the residents of Missouri are in favor of recreational marijuana legalization, taxing, and regulating its consumption and that they are excited that voters will have a chance in November to decide on the measure.
The group is supposed to submit enough signatures not later than May 3, and the Missourians for a New Approach campaign efforts are backed by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) and New Approach PAC. The campaign is lead by Payne, who was also involved in the successful medical marijuana legalization, which was approved by voters in 2018.
At the beginning of January, Missouri NORML and all of the state’s local chapters voted in favor of the legislation.
Missouri’s NORML state coordinator Dan Viets said that it is time to stop treating marijuana consumers like criminals. He also said that the state should regulate and tax marijuana just like they do with alcohol. Viets is also the Missourians for a New Approach Board Chair.
Local governments would be allowed to prohibit recreational marijuana businesses within their jurisdiction until the next general election after the 2020 elections. Afterward, local governments can prohibit marijuana businesses via voter approval.
If their campaign is successful, Missouri will be among the growing number of states such as Mississippi, South Dakota, and New Jersey looking to legalize marijuana through the ballot.
Marijuana advocates predict that before the elections, other states will place their initiatives on the ballot.
Many industry watchers believe that pot companies like MCTC Holdings Inc. (OTC: MCTC) are optimistic that the campaigners will succeed in getting the measure on the ballot, and that voters will also support full legalization.
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