Petitions to allow recreational pot in Missouri already in the works

Published: Dec. 26, 2019 at 5:49 PM CST
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Even though Missouri's medical marijuana industry has yet to get started with a projected start date of summer 2020, a move most of us saw coming has already begun.

Legalizing recreational pot in the Show Me State.

So far ten petitions have been filed to legalize recreational marijuana in Missouri with four of them approved for circulation to try and get enough signatures to place it on the ballot.

One of those by cannabis educator Mark Pedersen, a former Missouri resident now based in Colorado Springs, would do away with the new medical marijuana system, allow driving under the influence of pot, release from jail those who were convicted of nonviolent marijuana crimes, expunge their criminal records, and allow people of all ages to sell, consume, and possess pot.

Having no age limits, unlike alcohol and cigarettes, is sure to meet some opposition.

"Especially with inhaled products we do need to have a minimum age," said Amber Lear, the manager of Canna Bliss, a CBD shop in south Springfield.

You might not expect someone who deals in marijuana-related products to have concerns over deregulation, but Lear would like to see the issue decided at a national level with more scrutiny.

"We just need to be very careful of the language in the measure, who we're allowing to purchase it and where the money's going with the taxes," Lear said. "I'm just hoping that we'll get it legalized on a federal level and get more clinical trials and research done."

"There's a lot of good and a lot of bad that can come from those changes," added Casey Belew, who owns her own CBD Dispensary in Nixa. Just as everyone has differing views on the topic, Belew likes certain aspects of the proposal such as decriminalization but has her own concerns from the big corporate money that would flood the state if recreational marijuana were to be legalized to not wanting to see the medical marijuana industry fall by the wayside.

"I was excited to see the medical program pass first before recreational because this can get cannabis in a positive light for people," Belew said. "Changing the medical provisions I think is going to be dangerous."

She also feels it could have unintended consequences.

"Right now the taxes for medical cannabis go to the veterans," Belew said. "I love that initiative. That's something that's so important because there's not a lot of pros for veterans. You look at all these states that just sweep their veterans and PTSD sufferers under the rug. So who knows if that's restructured where that money would go to."

While legalizing recreational marijuana would obviously be good for their businesses, both managers pointed out that right now people are just trying to find their way in this burgeoning industry where the rules are still being written.

"I think people want to be legal," Lear said. "They want to do what's right. They don't want to get in trouble and they're trying to do that."

A state coordinator for NORML, the National Association for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, says that while many people predict it will be at least five or six years before voters will be ready to take up the recreational marijuana issue, it could happen sooner.