With each passing year, the climate surrounding marijuana reform seems to get more accepting. In Missouri, however, that hasn’t led us to any more permissive marijuana laws. On the contrary, we remain one of the states with the most restrictive marijuana laws of all. That doesn’t mean no one is trying to change this situation though, as three marijuana reform bills have already been proposed in 2014 and groups are also working to get legalization on the ballot come November.
Last year two marijuana bills died in committee without even getting a vote. One of those bills would have allowed patients to use marijuana as medicine, and another would have reduced marijuana possession penalties. This year, lawmakers are at it again and here’s hoping they have more success.
As reported by TheDailyChronic.net, three separate bills have been introduced. The first, HB 1659, would allow adults to possess and grow small amounts of marijuana. This bill, most like those in Colorado and Washington, would set up a system of marijuana taxation and regulation across the state. It would, in essence, legalize pot.
Another bill, HB 1324, would legalize medical marijuana—giving patients with certain conditions access to pot without fear of being arrested for this holistic healer. The third bill, HB 1325, would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana—leaving those caught with pot facing nothing more than a fine, rather than jail time.
And if the lawmakers aren’t able to get any of these measures moving, there’s a backup plan.
The organization Show-Me Cannabis is working to get a voter initiative on the November ballot. They’ve got their work cut out, however, as they have to gather 320,000 signatures from registered voters by May 4. In addition, those signatures must come from at least 8% of registered voters in six out of eight of the states US congressional districts. But they are a very organized and motivated group that has been working on this for years, so they have a great chance to get it done.
Across the country, support for marijuana reform has never been higher. Recent polls show the majority of Americans support legalization of marijuana. A poll last spring found residents in Missouri supported a legalization and regulation program by a margin of 54-44%. But we know lawmakers don’t always follow the people’s wishes.
Currently, in our state, you can go to jail for a joint. As we blogged about recently, you could even serve life in prison for marijuana. While 2014 looks promising for marijuana reform, Missouri lawmakers and even residents are likely to be a tough sale.