Proponents of adult-use legalization look ahead to 2022
Last update: March 8, 2021
As the state’s medical cannabis program continues to expand, thanks to voters’ approval of Amendment 2 in 2018, activists are beginning to mobilize around a push to legalize cannabis for adults through a 2022 ballot initiative. The Missouri Legislature is also considering a long list of cannabis-related bills, including some to regulate and tax cannabis.
Last year, Missourians for a New Approach emerged as the leader of an effort to pass an adult-use marijuana legalization ballot initiative in Missouri. Despite the campaign’s impressive progress in a short time, signature gathering efforts were ultimately halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As of January 2021, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reported that the medical cannabis program had 100,000 patients registered, who are served by 56 approved dispensary facilities.
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Missouri approves Amendment 2 to legalize medical marijuana
On Election Day 2018, Missourians voted to pass Amendment 2 with 65.5% support. Many local medical marijuana advocates and national organizations, including MPP, endorsed Amendment 2. With its passage, the right of Missouri patients to safely access medical marijuana was officially enshrined in the state constitution.
With a physician’s approval, a patient may qualify for medical marijuana if they have been diagnosed with any of the following conditions:
Intractable migraines unresponsive to other treatment
Conditions that cause persistent pain or muscle spasms, including MS, Parkinson’s disease, and Tourette’s syndrome
Debilitating psychiatric disorders such as PTSD
HIV or AIDS
A chronic medical condition normally treated with prescription medication that can lead to dependence, when a physician determines that medical marijuana could be an effective and safer treatment
Any terminal illness
Inflammatory bowel disease
Sickle cell anemia
Home cultivation is permitted for caregivers and qualified patients who apply for and receive a cultivation card. Each cardholder may grow up to six plants.
Current marijuana laws in Missouri
Medical marijuana is legal for registered patients. Voters approved Amendment 2 in 2018 to establish a medical marijuana program.
Marijuana possession has been decriminalized. Legislation was approved in 2014 to decriminalize the possession of 10 grams or less of cannabis. Possession of 10 grams or less is punishable by a fine only, but the offense remains a criminal misdemeanor. The possession of greater quantities of cannabis remains punishable by jail time.
Cultivation for non-patients remains illegal. Cultivating 35 grams or less is a Class E felony, which is punishable by up to four years of imprisonment and a maximum fine of $10,000. Cultivating 35 grams or more is a Class C felony, which is punishable by a sentence of three to 10 years imprisonment and a fine of $10,000.
Timeline of marijuana reform in Missouri
2008: In Missouri v. Cox, the state Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court’s rejection of a patient’s medical necessity defense because the legislature had already expressed its intent by placing marijuana in Schedule I, even though statute allowed the dispensing of Schedule I substances by certain professionals.
2014: Gov. Jay Nixon signed into law the Missouri Medical Marijuana Bill, allowing the use of CBD oil to treat persistent seizures.
Lawmakers enacted SB 491, decriminalization legislation that reduced penalties for those possessing up to 10 grams of marijuana. A first offense is punishable as a class D misdemeanor (an infraction) and carries a fine of $250-$1,000 with no jail time.
2015: Missouri issued licenses to two non-profits to grow cannabis for oil to be sold to patients.
2017: Kansas City voted to reduce the penalties for simple possession of marijuana, amending local laws regarding the possession of up to 35 grams of marijuana for adults age 21 and older from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil offense punishable by a $25 fine.
2018: Voters passed Amendment 2, legalizing medical marijuana in Missouri.
2020: Missourians for a New Approach submit petition language and begin signature gathering campaign but are ultimately forced to stop due to the COVID-19 outbreak.