Marijuana policy reforms considered in 2015, but fall short
Last update: June 10, 2015
Missouri’s 2015 legislative session wrapped up on May 15, and while it was encouraging that legislators introduced several positive bills, none of them passed. Two bills were introduced that would have taxed and regulated marijuana like alcohol for adults 21 and older. Polls now regularly show Americans support ending the failed war on marijuana, and it’s past time for state laws to change accordingly. Please take a moment to contact your senator and representative and voice your support for ending marijuana prohibition in Missouri!
Americans support allowing access to medical marijuana by an even bigger margin, yet Missouri also failed to enact a comprehensive, compassionate medical marijuana program this year. Several bills were introduced in 2015 that would have allowed qualified patients to have safe access to medical marijuana, but unfortunately these bills also fell short. However, it is significant that these bills that represent positive steps have become a regular fixture at the state capital. We hope to see further progress following the recent addition of the state’s high-CBD law, which was signed into law in 2014. You can voice your support for a comprehensive medical marijuana system by clicking here and emailing your representative and senator.
Marijuana laws in Missouri
In 2014, lawmakers enacted SB 491, which lessens penalties for those possessing up to 10 grams of marijuana, beginning in 2017. But Missouri still has a long way to go to protect its adult residents who choose to possess or use a substance shown to be objectively safer than alcohol. Possession of over 35 grams — about 1.25 ounces — is a felony subject to a prison sentence of up to seven years and a $5,000 fine.
In perhaps the most outrageous marijuana sentence in the state, Missourian Jeffrey Mizanskey is currently serving a life sentence for nonviolent cannabis-related offenses under a severe three-strikes law. Until May 22, 2015, he had no possibility of parole. Mizanskey’s sentence was commuted by Gov. Nixon on May 22, giving him the possibility of parole — and the possibility of not dying in prison.
Many thousands of Missourians are arrested and branded criminals each year for marijuana offenses. In 2012, Missouri arrested or cited over 18,800 individuals for marijuana-related offenses, 92% of which were for possession. During the same year, 87% of reported burglaries — including home invasions — and 88% of motor vehicle thefts went unsolved by law enforcement. In addition to marijuana prohibition diverting police from more serious crime, it’s also been unevenly enforced among races. Blacks are 2.6 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession in Missouri than their white counterparts, even though blacks and whites consume marijuana at similar rates. For more information on how the war on marijuana consumers is often waged unequally, check out the ACLU’s recent report.
Thank you for supporting the Marijuana Policy Project and all of our allies. If you have any questions concerning the status of marijuana policy reform in Missouri, you can contact us by email at [email protected].
To receive news about Missouri marijuana policy reform as it happens, be sure to subscribe to MPP’s free legislative alert service, if you haven’t done so already.