KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Marijuana will soon be legal in Missouri after voters passed Amendment 3 during Tuesday's midterm election, according to a projection from NBC News.
After implementation, people in Missouri age 21 and older will be legally allowed to buy and possess up to three ounces of marijuana and grow as many as six flowering plants at home. Possession limits for medical marijuana card-holders will be even higher.
The lingering question: How soon will this go into effect?
Missouri, which was slow to roll our medical marijuana after its passage in 2018, has until Feb. 7 to figure out a licensing process.
KSHB 41 News reporter Sarah Plake spoke with people in the state's marijuana industry, who anticipate it'll be a fairly easy process to convert their licenses to include recreational marijuana. The term they use is "comprehensive."
The majority of the licenses will go to those already approved to grow and distribute medical marijuana.
The newly passed amendment also calls for 144 licenses, which essentially will be raffled off in a lottery to microbusinesses with priority given to minority groups who have been disproportionately incarcerated for simple marijuana offenses.
That will be a much slower rollout, which will take place in three waves of 48 over the next 18 months.
Each of the eight congressional districts in the state will be granted six microbusiness licenses — two dispensary and four wholesale — within the first 300 days. Another wave will come 270 days later until all 144 licenses are granted.
Microbusinesses can either be a cultivation/manufacturing facility or a dispensary, but they can't have both.
Some groups criticized the amendment as inequitable, because it gives preferential treatment to existing — and bigger — operations, effectively squeezing out the "little guy."
State entities estimate recreational cannabis will pull in $40 million a year thanks to a 6% sales tax. The revenues going to veterans' services, record expungements, drug-treatment programs and to fund the public-defender system.
People with nonviolent cannabis offenses can have their record expunged immediately, unless the offense was driving under the influence or selling to a minor.
Current inmates with nonviolent cannabis offenses can petition to have their sentence vacated and get out of prison, but using cannabis in public remains prohibited until the new law.
Local municipalities will have the ability to tax marijuana sales an additional 3%.
Missouri is one of five states in which voters weighed in on recreational marijuana legalization during Tuesday's election. Maryland also legalized recreational marijuana, but Arkansas, North Dakota and South Dakota voters appeared poised to vote down legalization.
Nineteen states, two territories and Washington D.C. have previously legalized recreational marijuana.
The amendment received significant support from around the state, after Legal Missouri 2022 was able to collect roughly 400,000 signatures to get the issue placed on the ballot.
However, some cannabis advocates came out against the amendment, because it didn't allow people to smoke in public nor does it expunge all nonviolent marijuana offenses and trigger an automatic release of offenders.
The Missouri NAACP also released a letter urging people to vote no on Amendment 3, arguing that its passage would result in “the permanent exclusion of minorities from the cannabis industry in the state of Missouri.”