Here's what to know about recreational marijuana on the November ballot in Missouri
As Election Day approaches in Missouri, questions about marijuana on the ballot continue to circulate.
Missouri was recently ranked as the 10th most "CBD-obsessed" state by Leafwell, an organization of cannabis scientists and specialists. Leafwell examined Google Trends data of search terms used by people interested in CBD to create its rankings. Missourians were also frequently searching other marijuana-related terms, "THC" and "What is CBD?"
Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft announced in mid-August that a constitutional amendment to legalize recreational marijuana use and clear some cannabis-related convictions would be on the Nov. 8 ballot.
What does the amendment propose?
The ballot measure proposes an amendment to the Missouri Constitution that would:
- 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;
- Impose a 6% tax on the retail price of marijuana to benefit various programs.
When would the law go into effect?
If passed, the amendment would be added to the Missouri Constitution 30 days after the election on Nov. 8, but it could take longer before people are able to legally buy marijuana for recreational use as businesses work through the licensing process.
How much marijuana could one possess, consume or deliver under the new law?
According to the amendment, an individual could purchase, possess, consume, use, ingest, inhale, process, transport or deliver up to three ounces of dried, unprocessed marijuana.
Any person who were to smoke marijuana in a public place, other than a licensed area, would be subject to a civil penalty of up to $100.
How much marijuana could an individual cultivate under the new law?
An individual could possess, transport, plant, cultivate, harvest, dry, process or manufacture up to six marijuana flowering plants, six nonflowering plants and six clones (plants under 14 inches tall), according to the amendment. This is as long as the individual is registered with the state for cultivation of marijuana plants.
Plants and any marijuana products exceeding the three-ounce limit must be kept in one's private residence in a non-visible, locked space. If marijuana plants were cultivated in an open, public space, the individual would be subject to a civil penalty of up to $250 and loss of the marijuana.
Application forms and application instructions for personal cultivation registration cards would be made available to the public within 30 days of Dec. 8. Registration cards would be valid for 12 months, with a renewal fee of $100.
The law would permit marijuana microbusiness facilities. What does this mean?
Marijuana microbusiness facilities are similar to craft wineries or breweries. These businesses grow, process and sell small batches of product through an exclusive retail outlet. In recent years, marijuana microbusinesses have been popping up throughout the country.
There are two types of marijuana microbusiness facilities: a microbusiness dispensary facility and microbusiness wholesale facility. Wholesale facilities work internally and may cultivate, process, manufacture, transport and sell marijuana products to any other microbusiness facility.
Dispensary facilities work both internally and with the public and may process, package, deliver and sell marijuana products to other microbusiness facilities or directly to patients and consumers.
Three other types of facilities may exist in Missouri under the new law: comprehensive marijuana cultivation facility (where marijuana is grown), comprehensive marijuana dispensary facility (where marijuana is sold) and comprehensive marijuana-infused products manufacturing facility.
Different types of comprehensive cultivation facilities would have their own specification requirements:
- Indoor facilities with artificial light would be limited to 30,000 square feet of flowering plant canopy space.
- Outdoor facilities with natural light would be limited to 2,800 flowering plants.
- Greenhouse facilities using artificial and natural light would be limited to 2,800 flowering plants or 30,000 square feet of flowering plant canopy.
How would the new law impact the medical marijuana industry?
Nurse practitioners could recommend medical marijuana.
In addition to conversations with a primary care physician, patients would have the right to discuss the benefits of and use medical marijuana under the supervision of nurse practitioners.
Medical facilities could begin to produce and/or sell recreational marijuana.
According to the amendment, any medical marijuana cultivation facility, medical marijuana dispensary facility or medical marijuana-infused products manufacturing facility holding an active facility license could convert their license to a comprehensive marijuana license.
What programs would benefit from the retail sales tax?
Money generated by the personal property retail sales tax would be deposited into the "Veterans, Health, and Community Reinvestment Fund."
Individuals with certain marijuana-related, non-violent offenses could petition for release from incarceration, parole and probation. How would this work?
First, what is a non-violent offense?
According to the Missouri Sentencing Advisory Commission, non-violent crimes include things like drug possession, gambling or disturbing peace. Violent crimes are those that include bodily harm to oneself or others, which includes murder, domestic assault, some types of robbery, armed criminal acts and others.
Who can petition for release?
According to the amendment, there are three types of instances where people will be able to petition for release:
- Any person who would not have been guilty of an adult or juvenile offense if the law was in effect at the time of the offense.
- Any person who would have been guilty for a lesser adult or juvenile offense if the law was in effect at the time of the offense.
- Any person who is serving a marijuana offense that is a misdemeanor, class E felony, class D felony or successor designations involving possession of three pounds or less of marijuana (excluding offenses involving distribution/delivery to a minor, violence or operation of a vehicle while under the influence).
These individuals could petition their sentencing courts to "vacate the sentence, order immediate release from incarceration and other supervision by the Department of Corrections and the expungement of all government records of the case."
In addition, within six months of the law's effective date, Missouri circuit courts would order the expungement of criminal history records of all misdemeanor marijuana offenses for those who are no longer incarcerated or under Department of Corrections supervision.
Within 12 months, the circuit courts would order the expungement of criminal history records for those who have completed a sentence for a felony.
"An expungement order shall be legally effective immediately and the person whose record is expunged shall be treated in all respects as if he or she had never been arrested, convicted or sentences for the offense," the amendment states.
Can individuals with former weed-related charges sell marijuana?
Only individuals who have pleaded guilty, been found guilty of a felony or sold marijuana to a minor will be unable to sell marijuana. All other individuals will have the opportunity to apply for a marijuana microbusiness facility license.
How to prepare for the General Election
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8, and the last day to register to vote is Wednesday, Oct. 12.
During the two weeks prior to the election, voters can use a no-excuse absentee ballot in person at a location designated by a local election authority. When voting absentee in person, voters must have an acceptable form of photo ID, including a driver's license, nondriver license, U.S. Passport or military ID.
Voters can also request absentee ballots by mail, fax or email. All absentee ballots must be received by the election authority no later than 5 p.m. on the second Wednesday prior to the election.