The majority of Missourians who took to the polls on Tuesday voted yes for Constitutional Amendment 3, which allows for the legalization of recreational marijuana.
Statewide, the amendment passed with 53% of the population in favor while 47% of the population voted no. In St. Francois County, 50.5% of voters were in favor.
Missouri is now one of 21 states with legal recreational and medical marijuana use. Voters in Missouri and Maryland approved legalization measures Tuesday. Voters in three states, Arkansas, and both North and South Dakota, rejected legalization measures on Tuesday.
With the legalization of recreational marijuana, it will no longer be illegal for those 21 and older to purchase, possess, and use recreational marijuana. The previous amendment in 2018 allowed for medical marijuana for qualifying patients.
Laureen Stowers, vice president of Marketing and Retail of Justice Cannabis Co., the parent company of Bloc Dispensary in Farmington, explained state officials met on Wednesday to discuss the Adult Use conversion process for current licensees, application processes, fees, and more.
“It sounds like they are hoping to have this entire process fleshed out by the end of next week,” explained Stowers. This means applications can be submitted by Dec. 6. “After a 60-day review, that will put us at opening up recreationally by February if all goes accordingly.”
Initially, only licensed medical marijuana dispensaries will be allowed to sell for recreational use.
ExpungementThe amendment allows individuals with certain marijuana-related, non-violent offenses, to petition for release from incarceration or parole and probation, as well as allowing to have those records expunged.
This means St. Francois County Circuit Clerk Vicki Weible’s Office could have a lot of work ahead.
“At this point all I know is that there will be thousands of cases going back to the beginning of time it seems that will be eligible for expungement,” she said Wednesday. “To comply with constitutional requirements there will be certain misdemeanor and felony marijuana offenses that will be eligible. This does not include municipal violations or juvenile delinquency cases.
“At the current time, the state court administrators office has not come up with a way to automatically grant these expungements. We have received word from them that they are working on forms, codes, reports, and case types and a process so that we can comply with the requirements.
Weible, who did not seek reelection and is retiring at the end of the year, added that there has been no mention of any additional positions or funds to move forward with the process, “but we have been advised that there will be a manual process performed by the clerks.”
“The effect will be huge on my staff,” said Weible. “More than likely the process will begin before the end of the year. With so many changes coming at the first of the year, including a new prosecutor (Blake Dudley) and new clerk (Kristina Bone), I can see this becoming pretty chaotic.
“Hopefully the state courts will be able to come up with some guidance for us in the near future. I can also see this as being somewhat of a ‘budget buster’ as far as postage expense for sending out notices and pretty labor intensive, as well.”
Henderson reacts to passage of Amendment 3
State Rep. Mike Henderson, R-Desloge, was opposed to the passage of Amendment 3 legalizing marijuana.
“I was not in favor of Amendment 3 for numerous reasons,” he said. “One of my biggest reasons is that I fear marijuana getting in the hands of kids much easier. I am always going to err on the side of kids and these kids getting it in their hands … I don’t see it as a positive in any way.
“I looked at Colorado and didn’t see a lot of positive effects for Colorado when they went to recreational. Plus, this amendment had a lot of restrictions in it, like municipalities and counties had no opt-out of it being sold and Colorado did.”
Henderson had mixed reactions about the overall results of the mid-term election.
“I think here in Missouri it went as Republicans expected,” he said. “Democrats probably felt good about some of their areas. I think nationally the Republicans thought it was going to be a red wave and we didn’t see that necessarily. That puts it on us as Republicans to figure out why.”
More about the Amendment
According to Constitutional Amendment 3, Missouri’s Constitution will be amended to remove state prohibitions on purchasing, possessing, consuming, using, delivering, manufacturing, and selling marijuana for personal use for adults over the age of 21. It will also require a registration card for personal cultivation with prescribed limits. Soon, residents will be allowed to purchase and possess up to three ounces.
It will also establish a lottery selection processes to award licenses and certificates, and will issue equally distributed licenses to each congressional district. There are currently eight congressional districts in the state of Missouri.
A tax of 6% on the retail price of marijuana will also be established, which will be used to benefit various programs.
It is estimated by state governmental entities there will be an initial cost of $3.1 million while initial revenue will be about $7.9 million, annual costs are expected to be $5.5 million while the annual revenue is expected to be at least $40.8 million. Local governments are estimated to have an annual cost of $35,000 while annual revenues are expected to start at $13.8 million.
Danielle Thurman is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be contacted at email@example.com or 573-518-3616.