Missouri Marijuana Legalization Bill Aims High but Expectations Remain Low

The following are some examples ambitious new billcalled the Cannabis Freedom Act Missouri state Rep. Ron Hicks (R–St. Charles County), aims to legalize recreational cannabis consumption and provide relief for nonviolent offenders who have used it. It also allows restaurants, bars and other private venues, to legally sell marijuana.

The bill Adults aged 21 and older would be able to buy or possess marijuana from licensed sellers. It would eliminate existing laws that criminalize marijuana use and doesn’t specify any possession limits for the drug. Home growing would be legalized with up to 12 plants. Licensees could also contract home growers for their product.

State Rep. Richard Brown (D–Kansas City), the bill’s co-sponsor, says he supports legalization because “it’s just time” to stop punishing those who use marijuana. He stated that the bill had bipartisan support, which he also supported. PresentlyThe bill includes six Democrats and eight Republican sponsors, so it may make it to the House floor. Brown states that no House debate has been held on cannabis legalization during Brown’s tenure of six years in office.

It’s crucial to discuss it, because people and the media will speak about it,” says Brown. Brown hopes more people will start to talk about recreational marijuana usage, and that this will lead to legalization.

The Cannabis Freedom ActAlso included are stipulations that apply to nonviolent cannabis offenders. Nonviolent cannabis crimes convicted offenders could ask courts for expungement. A bill proposed would allow those currently in prison for marijuana-related offenses to be eligible for resentence, while parole holders would be exempted from any punishment for their use.

This legislationThe bill would ban law enforcement from using marijuana smell as probable cause for warrantless searches. This bill also would prohibit federal authorities sharing the information of medical marijuana users.

The billHospitality business licenses are proposed, which will allow bars and restaurants to sell cannabis products. The state will receive all tax revenue from recreational marijuana. This money would go to a cannabis freedom fund. It would be used to pay for administrative costs associated with the implementation of the marijuana program. The money will then be dispersed to other programs, such as teacher salaries and pensions.

Brown remains cautious on the bills chances of passing. It is not clear that it will pass. “It has a chance,” says he. 

Brown claims that his doubts about the bill’s passage stem from previous resistance to legalization of marijuana. Two Missouri state representatives were elected last year. Peter Merideth (D–St. Louis Wiley Price IV (D–St. Louis) tried unsuccessfully to pass laws legalizing recreational cannabis use. Bills failed to get through the House.

Rep. Ashley Bland Manlove, State Representative (D–Jackson County), another co-sponsor, took a dimmer view on the bill’s outlook. Bland Manlove states, “I do believe this bill will not be successful.” 

Bland Manlove believes that the Republican-dominated legislative will endanger the bill. Republicans currently outnumber Democrats in the House 108–49 and hold a two-thirds majority in the General Laws Committee. This committee has not voted on most previous cannabis bills. Only one cannabis bill passed the committee and was given a public hearing in 2018. It didn’t move to full vote.

Bland Manlove said that she supported the bill in its current form. The legislation’s goals of equity and exoneration for nonviolent offenders as well as the potential revenue that it could bring to the state makes it great legislation. However, if the legislature changes or removes any of these stipulations, she won’t support it.

Missouri House of Representatives has read the Cannabis Freedom Act twice last week. However, the bill is still not approved. Yet, they made it through to the committee process.