KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri’s ballot measure where voters could approve recreational marijuana for people over the age of 21 is a big milestone that many cannabis advocates have been working towards for years.
It would allow people over 21 to have three ounces of marijuana, grow six plants, and would automatically expunge non-violent cannabis convictions.
Still, there are some people who have been fighting for this kind of outcome that say the measure being put in front of voters is going about it the wrong way.
“My goal has always been to end [cannabis] prohibition,” said Missouri Marijuana Legalization Movement’s Tim Gilio.
Gilio admits it’s a bit odd he’s planning on voting against the ballot measure this November, but he is against the new possession limits it sets and things a constitutional amendment isn’t the right way to go about legalization.
“It would be in the Missouri constitution, and it would be stuck in the Missouri constitution,” said Gilio.
Legal Missouri 2022, which successfully got the initiative on the ballot in November, pushes back on the idea that a constitutional amendment locks in a recreational cannabis program. Campaign Manager John Payne tells FOX4 that the Department of Health and Senior Services and the legislature would be able to change rules as long as they don’t make the program more restrictive.
Cannabis Attorney Andrew Goodwin, at Joseph, Hollander & Craft, said the constitutional amendment is the safest way to protect a recreational program from whoever gets elected in the future.
“One of the biggest mistakes Missouri learned from is that you cannot leave it all in the hands of the state government,” said Goodwin. “As the political winds change, a hostile bureaucracy takes hold, they can crush a marijuana program.”
Other cannabis supports like Derron Black take issue with how the path to legalization might open up more licenses, but it keeps the barrier to entry getting those licenses relatively high. He says other industries don’t face those issues.
“Being able to utilize this plant as a instrument of economic development and also health and healing is something that should be accessible to everyone,” Black said. “There are at least five to ten establishments right here where I’m standing that sell alcohol.”
Payne contends that the new possession limits would be some of the largest in the nation while reducing penalties for people who are caught with enough to trigger some kind of penalty.
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