Missouri Voters Could Legalize Recreational Marijuana This Fall

Green shoots are popping up in red states.

Voters in Missouri will decide this November whether to legalize recreational marijuana in the state, after backers of a proposed constitutional amendment to that effect successfully petitioned it on to the ballot.

Missouri Secretary of State John Ashcroft (R) certified that the initiative had received sufficient signatures Tuesday, clearing the hurdle in six of the state’s eight congressional districts.

If passed, the amendment would impose a 6% tax on all non-medical marijuana sales, with the proceeds funneling into a newly created “Veterans, Health, and Community Reinvestment Fund” to be managed by the state.

One-third of the fund would be earmarked for health care and other services for military veterans, one-third for drug addiction treatment and overdose prevention, and the remaining third would be used to pay for legal assistance for low-income Missourians via the state’s public defender system.

In a press release accompanying the announcement, Ashcroft encouraged Missourians “to study and educate themselves” on the ballot initiative.

“Initiative 2022-059 that voters will see on the November ballot is particularly lengthy and should be given careful consideration,” he said.

Nineteen states, two territories and the District of Columbia have so far legalized cannabis for adult non-medical use, according to data tracked by the National Conference of State Legislatures, a nonpartisan policy organization.

If it passed, Missouri would arguably be the most conservative state so far to regulate marijuana for adult recreational use.

While voters in South Dakota passed a ballot initiative in November 2020 legalizing marijuana there, the state’s Supreme Court struck it down because it violated the state’s constitution. South Dakotans will vote on a similar initiative again this year.

Even though a supermajority of Americans say marijuana should be legal, federal cannabis reform remains unlikely this year.

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