After a nailbiter of a signature gathering campaign, Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft announced today, August 9, that the Show-Me State will vote on whether to legalize adult-use marijuana this November.
Proponents had been left in the dark as state officials counted and validated signatures gathered by the group Legal Missouri.
Even though the group collected nearly twice as many raw signatures as the law required—over 385,000—there was an additional threshold to cross: Any ballot campaign in Missouri must gather an amount of signatures that’s equal to at least 8% of the votes cast in the state’s most recent gubernatorial election (an election for governor)…in at least six of the state’s eight congressional districts.
For weeks, it looked like Legal Missouri had missed the mark in two of the six required districts. But, as Ashcroft confirmed today, they had in fact prevailed.
“Our campaign volunteers collected 100,000 signatures, on top of paid signature collection,” John Payne, campaign manager of Legal Missouri, said in a statement. “That outpouring of grassroots support among Missourians who want to legalize, tax and regulate cannabis made all the difference.
“We look forward to engaging with voters across the state in the coming weeks and months,” he said. “Missourians are more than ready to end the senseless and costly prohibition of marijuana.”
These are some of the provisions contained in the legalization measure:
- Residents can purchase and possess up to three ounces of cannabis.
- Residents can additionally grow six mature plants and six immature plants at home, provided they obtain a registration card to do so. They can additionally possess six clones.
- The measure provides automatic expungement of cannabis convictions for non-violent offenders.
- Adult-use sales will be subject to a 6% cannabis excise tax.
- Cannabis tax revenue will be used to fund “veterans’ healthcare, drug addiction treatment, and Missouri’s underfunded public defender system.”
- Medical patients will be able renew their cards once every three years (patients must currently renew annually).
- Local governments can add an additional 3% excise tax to cannabis purchases.
- The measure mandates a minimum of 144 new cannabis small business licenses, selected by lottery.
- The proposal allows counties to opt-out of legal regulated sales, but only via a vote of the people.
State officials estimate that adult-use cannabis excise taxes could generate at least $41 million in tax revenue every year.
“I encourage Missourians to study and educate themselves on any ballot initiative,” Ashcroft said in a press release. “[The legalization initiative] that voters will see on the November ballot is particularly lengthy and should be given careful consideration.”