On Saturday Missouri Secretary of State, Jason Kander, announced that an initiative petition to legalize the use, sale and distribution of marijuana and hemp has met the state’s standards for circulation.
This initiative would amend the Missouri constitution to include all of the following:
- Allow for the production, sale, distribution and consumption of cannabis products, including hemp, by persons at least 21 years old
- Permit the state to establish a tax system and authorize regulations and licensing procedures for marijuana
- Change criminal provisions for marijuana offenses, and allow individuals who have certain marijuana-related offenses to apply to have them expunged
- Allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes
The State expects approximately a cost of about $1 million to establish the program, and an annual operating expense of $4.9 million is anticipated. It has been suggested that potential savings in operating costs of the criminal justice system may balance this out.
Most information coming from the state at this point is vague, as annual revenues exceeding $75 million have also been reported.
Before the the initiative can be placed on the 2016 ballot, signatures must be gathered from a number of registered voters that is equal to eight percent or more of the total votes. The petition must contain signatures from at least six of Missouri’s eight congressional districts.
Show-Me Cannabis estimates this is roughly 167,000 signatures. The group has 16 months to gather the signatures.
The completed petition must be turned into the Missouri Secretary of State’s office by May 8, 2016 at 5 p.m.
Missouri state law instructs that ballot language must first be approved by both the secretary of state and attorney general. After thorough examination, the secretary of state must submit a summary in 100 words or less while the state auditor prepares a government revenue impact summary. Both of those summaries are then submitted to the attorney general for final approval.