Marijuana advocates hope legalization will make its way to Missouri

On Wednesday, people in Colorado may ring in the New Year in a whole new way.

Recreational marijuana will be legal there January 1.

Some believe Missouri could be the next state to legalize the drug.

Show Me Cannibis, a group that has been working for years to legalize marijuana in Missouri, said since Colorado is so close, the movement in Missouri is sure to gain momentum.

According to Show Me Cannibis, 50 percent of those polled in 2013 either "strongly favor" or "lean towards" legalizing the drug in Missouri.

In that same survey, more men than women favored legalizing pot, more Democrats (69%) than Republicans (33%).

Leawood attorney Brain Leininger and Show Me Cannibis supporter said full legalization could happen at the ballot box during the 2014 mid-term elections or in 2016, where a broader group of people show up to bit during the presidential election.

"I think people will see California is working, Colorado is working, Washington is working, that the sky is not falling, the states aren't going down the tube and that will convince a lot more people," Leininger said.

Missouri is about to have a record five or six marijuana legalization bills before lawmakers in 2014.

One of them, Leininger said, looks very much like Colorado's law, "Legalize it, regulate it and tax it to the same extent."

But if someone decides he can't wait until it is passed and heads out to Colorado, Leininger offers a word of warning: federal law in Kansas and Missouri that prohibits marijuana use still applies.

"You're legal while you're in Colorado, but if you come back to Kansas or Missouri and your employer wants to do a drug test, they don't care you smoked it where it was legal."

There are still many opponents to legalizing pot, like many narcotics officers who are on the front lines of the drug war.

They warn drug use will only get worse because more of the drug will be available, competition will lower the price and there will be less perception of risk.

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