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Missouri Voters To Take Call On Legalizing Recreational Marijuana In State

A campaign to legalize recreational marijuana in Missouri state has secured enough signatures to make it on the November ballot, the secretary of state said on Tuesday.
If the constitutional amendment on marijuana gets approval from voters, those aged 21 and older can buy and grow marijuana for personal consumption as early as this year.

Missouri voters had approved medical marijuana in the year 2018. Efforts to allow the use of marijuana for recreational purposes have failed to pass Missouri's Republican-led Legislature for years, thus prompting advocates to go to voters for approval instead.

Recreational marijuana is already legal in 19 states, and legalization proposals are on the anvil this fall in the states of South Dakota and Maryland. Supporters are also trying to get measures on the ballot in Arkansas, North Dakota and Oklahoma.

Supporters of the Missouri ballot proposal are highlighting a provision, which would remove previous marijuana-related convictions for non-violent offenders and those whose convictions didn't include selling to minors or driving while high.

Local NAACP chapters, the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, criminal defense lawyers and other civil rights advocacy groups endorsed automatic expungement, and it could broaden support for the initiative among Republican criminal justice advocates.

Commenting on the developments, Alan Zagier of Legal MO 2022 said, "We're talking about people who may still be on probation or parole or even had a conviction and did their time and paid their fine but yet it still comes up and is a hindrance in housing or employment. Provide a fresh start and wipe the slate clean for really tens of thousands of Missourians who each year find themselves arrested for low level drug offenses."

Seven other states with legal recreational marijuana have also adopted automatic expungement policies.

Marijuana sales would be taxed at 6 percent under the Missouri measure. The tax is estimated to bring in more than $46 million during the first full year the amendment is in effect and close to $70 million the following year. Revenues would be set aside for veterans' homes, drug treatment programs and public defenders.

Cities and other municipalities have the provision of enacting local sales taxes on recreational marijuana up to 3 percent or enact local bans on non-medical marijuana sales by a public vote.

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