KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A judge heard arguments Thursday in a lawsuit brought forth by an anti-drug group seeking to take a recreational marijuana legalization proposal off Missouri’s November ballot.
The suit alleges that marijuana supporters didn’t gather enough valid voter signatures to put the proposal to a vote.
Medical marijuana dispensaries across the state are hoping Missouri voters approve the measure in November.
“We think it’s something that’s exciting and new,” Fresh Karma Dispensaries Director of Marketing Jericho Heese said in an interview with FOX4 Thursday. “We think Missouri is potentially ready for that new market.”
Heese said his business has spent more than a year in the medical marijuana market and supports the legalization of recreational marijuana.
But some state leaders, like Republican Gov. Mike Parson and U.S. Senator Josh Hawley, aren’t on board. Hawley supported medical marijuana, but he’s against recreational marijuana, calling it “terrible policy” in an interview with FOX4 Thursday.
“We now have a lot of data on marijuana use because we’ve got years of it being studied,” Hawley said. “We’ve seen study after study show that as it builds up in the body, and it does tend to linger it appears over time that it has detrimental long term health effects. It is a gateway drug. That is true.”
Hawley is joined by the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys in his stance. Republican Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd, a member of that group, opposed the Cannabis Freedom Act, citing the results other states have seen since the legalization of recreational marijuana.
“In Colorado, we’ve seen tremendous increases in the number of fatalities from marijuana-induced driving. We’ve seen children show up in emergency rooms in unprecedented numbers having mistakenly ingested marijuana edibles.”
“We take that as a challenge,” Heese in response to a question about increases in crime. “In the state of Missouri, we’ve been very prepared so far with all of the obstacles within cannabis.
“I think the state’s done a great job of regulating it. I think the owners have done a great job so far of participating in that regulation, and I think the consumers are starting to understand and see that too, and so I think that it’s time for us to be able to take that challenge ourselves and see what we can do.”
If approved by Missouri voters in November, anyone 21 and older would be able to possess 3 ounces of marijuana. The judge did not make a ruling Thursday, but he hopes to make one soon.
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