Groups start campaign to place recreational marijuana question on Missouri's November ballot

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Even though voters approved medical marijuana in 2018, the products aren't readily available yet.

That's not stopping two Missouri groups from trying to legalize the plant for recreational use.

"We're working on a campaign to put adult use of cannabis - taxed and regulated like alcohol - on the ballot here in November," said Dan Veitz of Missouri NORML and Missourians for a New Approach.

Those two groups launched the campaign Thursday night.

They want voters to decide whether or not adults 21 and older should be allowed to have up to an ounce of marijuana and grow up to three plants.

Veitz says he's been trying to legalize marijuana in Missouri for nearly 45 years. He thinks the support is there.

"Support for legalization of adult non-medical use has increased dramatically in recent years," Veitz said. "In the last couple years, it appears Missourians support for legalization has climbed by something like 16-percent, and it continues to grow at that rate."

Recreational marijuana would have a 15-percent tax in addition to sales tax. That money would be used to fix roads and bridges. It would also go to support treatment for people with addiction problems and veterans.

The initiative would also allow people with low-level marijuana convictions to get their records cleared.

"That way they're not forgotten, and we didn't forget about them and leave them behind," said Lance Lenau of Mid-Mo NORML.

Despite Veitz's decades-long push, police officers think 2020 is a little too soon for recreational marijuana.

"I think it's a little presumptuous," said Capt. Chris Twitchel of the Camden County Sheriffs Office. "I think we need to establish the medical portion before we move on to the recreational. I know eventually it's going to happen, but we haven't even got the recreational part in place."

Twitchel says it's hard to determine whether or not there would be an increase in people driving under the influence of weed, or an increase in crime if it's legalized.

He says police and deputies will have to adjust to the changes if recreational marijuana is approved.

"We'll deal with it and we'll train our officers to respect peoples constitutional rights and ensure that they are getting the service to our community that they deserve," Twitchel said.

The groups must obtain 160,000 signatures of registered voters by early May for the constitutional amendment question to be on the November 2020 ballot.

You can visit the campaign's website by clicking HERE.