Missouri Has Three Chances to Stop Marijuana Prohibition, Thwart Federal Drug War in 2016

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Dec. 14, 2015) – Two bills pre-filed in Missouri last week would legalize recreational marijuana, and another would legalize marijuana for medical use. This gives the Show Me State several opportunity to effectively block federal marijuana prohibition in practice during next year’s legislative session.

HJR57 was introduced by Rep. Brandon Ellington (D-Kansas City) and, if approved, allow Missouri voters to decide whether they want to legalize marijuana. SJR29 was introduced by Sen. Jason Holsman (D-Kansas City) to allow Missouri voters to decide whether they want to legalize medical marijuana. SB762 was introduced by Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal (D-University City) to legalize recreational marijuana through the legislature.

All three bills were officially filed on Dec. 1 and will be considered during the 2016 legislative session.

HJR57 would put the issue of legalizing marijuana directly to the voters. If passed by a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate, it would bypass the governor completely and Missouri residents could amend the state constitution to legalize marijuana in the Nov. 2016 election. HJR57 would tax and regulate marijuana similar to alcohol. It would set up the following framework for marijuana production and distribution:

"(a) Individuals shall show proof of age before purchasing marijuana;
(b) Selling, distributing, or transferring marijuana to minors and other individuals under the age of twenty-one shall remain illegal;
(c) Driving under the influence of marijuana shall remain illegal;
(d) Legitimate, taxpaying business people will conduct sales of marijuana; and
(e) Marijuana sold in this state shall be labeled and subject to additional regulations to ensure that consumers are informed and protected."

SJR29 would also bypass the governor and put the issue of medical marijuana directly to the voters. If passed by a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate, Missouri residents would be able to amend the state constitution to legalize medical marijuana. Under the bill, medical marijuana would be taxed at 4 percent and subject to regulation by the Department of Health and Senior Services.

SB762 contains similar language to HJR57, but would not put the issue to the voters. Instead, it would have to pass through the House and Senate before being signed into law by the Governor. It would legalize marijuana, impose a sales tax of 12.9 percent, allow up to an ounce for personal position, and permit marijuana retail operations regulated by the state.

The best thing about measures like these is that they are completely lawful, and there is little if anything the feds can do to stop them in practice.

LEGALITY

Congress and the president claims the authority to ban marijuana. The Supreme Court concurs. However, nearly two-dozen states have taken steps to protect the well-being of their citizens by legalizing marijuana to varying degrees anyway.

“The rapidly growing and wildly successful state-level movement to legalize marijuana, either completely, or for medical use, proves that states can successfully effectively reject deplorable federal acts. The feds can claim the authority to prohibit pot all they want, but it clearly has done nothing to deter states from moving forward with plans to allow it, pushed by the will of the people,” policy analyst Michael Boldin said.

Because these bills have not been officially introduced, they haven’t received a committee hearing at the present time. SB762, HJR57, and SJR29 must advance through their committee hearings before they can receive full votes in their respective chambers.