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Missouri effort to legalize recreational cannabis grows

Posted at 8:40 PM, Jul 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-16 21:40:24-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — Missouri activists groups hope initiative petitions for recreational or, adult-use, cannabis will make it on a 2022 ballot.

"The idea here is to enable consumers to have access to good products at good prices, to keep the from having to participate in any illicit activities," Eric McSwain, spokesperson for Fair Access Missouri, said. "We know consumers are already participating in adult use, it's just not in a legal, regulated market."

Fair Access Missouri filed several petitions with the Secretary of State's office and has several more hurdles to cross before citizens could vote on the issue. If any of the petitions make it that far, they would allow people more than 21 years old to use cannabis.

Activists like McSWain said this would also open up the market for more economic benefits.

And what makes this effort different from others is that it doesn't include licensing caps, which is starkly different from the state's medicinal plan. That effort capped licenses at 348, shutting out more than 1,000 hopeful business owners.

"The average, even the every day individuals who won't be a cannabis consumer, will enjoy benefits because that's increased tax revenues," McSwain said. "Maybe we can get some work done on our roads."

Now, business owners whose applications were denied in the medicinal process wonder if this will be their ticket in.

"I think it will allow people to get in on it," Mike Jones said. "For example, the property you see behind me was meant to be a dispensary."

Jones' applications for a dispensary and cultivation facility at 39th Street and Woodland Avenue were denied, though he owns two cannabis facilities in Oklahoma.

He said the prices in Missouri are outrageously high compared to Oklahoma, a state booming with dispensaries and an open market.

Jones said legal recreational cannabis might mean dispensaries on every corner and worries about the quality of the product.

"I think recreational is coming whether I want it or not," Jones said. "I would like it to stay medical, but I want access for patients who need it at a decent price. That shouldn't be too much to ask."

From here, the petitions need the Attorney General's approval. They would then go to a public comment period. Financials and the language would need to be approved, then Fair Access could start gathering 171,000 signatures to get it on the ballot.

NORML, the group that worked to legalize medical cannabis in 2018, also is working on an initiative petition for adult-use cannabis. A spokesperson said they will file it soon. The group was obtaining signatures to put the issue on the May 2020 ballot, but COVID-19 got in the way.

A bill in the Missouri legislature would have legalized recreational cannabis but all action on the bill ended in May.