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Law Missouri


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Missouri Medical Marijuana Groups Submit Signatures for November Vote

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Supporters of legalizing medical marijuana in Missouri turned in signatures Friday for two ballot initiatives that would let voters decide the issue in November.

A third group has until Sunday to submit its own signatures.

Each initiative would allow patients with cancer, HIV, epilepsy and a variety of other conditions to access medical marijuana. The differences among the proposals largely stem from how marijuana would be regulated and taxed, and where those new tax dollars would go.

The latter question is especially significant because legislative researchers estimated earlier this year that more than $100 million worth of medical marijuana could be sold annually if it became legal.

New Approach Missouri, which submitted signatures to the secretary of state’s office Friday morning, has a specific emphasis on veterans. Post-traumatic stress disorder is one of the conditions that would qualify for medical marijuana under its proposal, and a 4 percent sales tax would be funneled into a newly-created veterans fund to help cover health care costs.

“For veterans, it’s really a win-win proposition,” said Jack Cardetti, the group’s spokesman. The Department of Health and Senior Services would be in charge of licensing the marijuana.

Find the Cure, which turned in signatures Friday afternoon, would instead charge a 15 percent tax and create an independent research institute to both regulate marijuana in the state and research “currently incurable diseases.”

If any cures or treatments were developed with the institute’s help, and the breakthrough generated revenue, some of that money would be set aside to reimburse Missouri citizens for what they had paid in income taxes.

Both New Approach Missouri and Find the Cure propose amending the state constitution, a process that requires more than 160,000 signatures. Cardetti said he turned in more than twice that number. Marcus Leach, a spokesman for Find the Cure, said they had already paid for two audits to verify more than 300,000 signatures.

Signatures must be verified by the secretary of state’s office and local election authorities before a question can go before voters, a process that can take months.

A third group, Missourians for Patient Care aims to instead rewrite state law, a process that has a lower signature threshold. That initiative would distribute a 2 percent tax among several state agencies, with a specific focus on veterans.

The group’s treasurer did not return requests for comment. A spokesman for the secretary of state’s office said the group had not yet turned in signatures.

If all three measures made it to the ballot and were approved by voters, the differences between them would be resolved by the following formula: Constitutional amendments would trump state law, and whichever amendment received the most votes would overrule the other.

Missouri lawmakers have expressed reservations throughout the year about letting voters set the rules for the growing industry. A bill that would legalize medical marijuana for many patients passed the House Tuesday, but the Senate has only two weeks left to consider it.
Great, now we are eating our own young. sigh

Lawsuit seeks to snuff out two of three medical marijuana questions on Missouri ballot

The man backing one of three medical marijuana questions on the November ballot is trying to disqualify his two competitors.

Springfield attorney Brad Bradshaw filed lawsuits in Cole County last week, saying that one of the initiatives failed to collect enough signatures, while the other broke the law when it circulated its petitions.

The legal maneuvering comes as the clock ticks down on Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, who is in charged of setting up the November ballot. In the lawsuit, Bradshaw asks for an expedited hearing in both cases, with the hope of having the matter settled by early October.

Earlier this month, Ashcroft approved the trio of questions to be placed on the general election ballot that would make Missouri the 31st state to legalize pot.

Bradshaw, who also is a doctor, has self-financed one of those questions. His initiative, called Find the Cures, would impose a 15 percent tax on medical pot sales to finance a state institute to conduct research on cancer and other diseases.

Bradshaw is the sole contributor to the campaign, personally loaning his initiative more than $1 million.

A second initiative by a group known as New Approach Missouri asks voters for approval to impose a 4 percent tax on retail marijuana sales, which would go toward veterans’ health care. The state estimates the proposal would generate $18 million in fees and sales tax each year.

The third initiative, sponsored by Missourians for Patient Care, would change state statutes to make marijuana legal for medical use and impose a 2 percent retail tax on medical marijuana, channeling revenue to early childhood education, veterans care, public safety and drug treatment.

Bradshaw's lawsuit against New Approach Missouri alleges the group collected signatures without a petition circulator present. It also claims unregistered voters signed the petition.

"New Approach ... ran an intentional, systematic, pervasive, and ubiquitous pattern of instructing individuals to violate the legal requirements of the petition signature gathering process," the suit notes.

In the lawsuit against Missourians for Patient Care, Bradshaw said the group failed to collect enough signatures in the 5th Congressional District. Specifically, he said the effort fell at least one short of the more than 16,300 need to qualify for the ballot. The lawsuit does not outline which signatures were invalid.

Jack Cardetti, spokesman for New Approach Missouri, said the organization turned in the most signatures of the trio of initiatives.

“That really shows the strength of the Amendment 2 campaign,” Cardetti said. “Brad Bradshaw has filed a frivolous lawsuit to try to get done in court what he won’t be able to get done at the ballot box.”
Medical Marijuana Will Be Prohibited in Missouri Veterans Nursing Homes

After Missouri voters approved a new medical marijuana program by a decisive margin of 65 to 35 percent in November, the state’s veterans have been playing the waiting game. Forget getting their cannabis covered by the government—would they finally be able to talk to their VA doctors about ditching opioids for cannabis (in the case of many chronic pain sufferers) without being at risk of losing their benefits?

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Missouri Veterans Commission Executive Director Grace Link announced new regulations on Monday that clarify the answer, at least for now, is still no.

“We have to meet VA standards,” said Link. “We have to comply with federal guidelines.”

Given the potential conflicts involved with a medicine that is not federally recognized, 1,350 Missouri nursing home residents, and the employees that work at the homes, are officially prohibited by Missouri law from utilizing the state-legal medical cannabis system. The official reasoning has to do with system funding. It costs $80 million to run the state’s veteran health care system, and a portion of that money comes from the federal government.

This is not a small issue. An American Legion study of 1,360 veterans in 2017 found that those who have served in the armed forces are more likely than the general population to seek medical cannabis treatment. 22 percent of that survey reported that they were currently using marijuana to treat a medical condition. Other VA reports have stated that veterans are more likely to suffer from chronic pain—one of the health conditions that science suggests is greatly helped by marijuana—than other US residents.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, veterans’ families are heavily in support of widening scientific and personal access to cannabis. The 2017 American Legion survey found that 92 percent of all veteran households supported more cannabis research, and 83 percent support legalization.

Across the country, veterans’ groups have sought to make clear the positive effects that cannabis have on the lives of war vets. In some states like Oklahoma and Massachusetts, veterans have literally been first in line when cannabis has become available.

Some policy makers have been compelled to address the boundaries that lie between veterans and their medicine. In November, a bi-partisan pair of Congressmen—Democratic Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton and Republican Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz—introducedthree bills related to vets and cannabis.

Of those three bills, one proposal would make it legal for veterans to discuss their medical cannabis usage with their VA doctors without fear of losing benefits. Another would set up a system in which the VA collects data on vets and their weed usage. The third would fund VA partnerships with cannabis studies.

Since Missouri voters chose to legalize medicinal cannabis, the state has taken in over $2 million in application fees. Once the system is up and running, Link said its tax revenues will likely contribute $20 million a year to the Missouri Veterans’ Health and Care Fund, which will fund operating costs from residential facilities, veteran job training, and health care system costs.

Missouri posts final rules for medical cannabis

Missouri has set its rules on medical marijuana.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the department tasked with regulating the industry, posted final rules on the department's website Friday, a move long awaited by people hoping to use, make or sell medical marijuana and related products. The rules take effect June 3, a day before the deadline by which the department was required by law to finalize its regulations.

Voters approved Amendment 2 in November, making Missouri the 33rd state to legalize marijuana for medical purposes and starting a stampede of business owners looking to capitalize on the new market. Sales of the various forms of the products are to start early next year and are expected to top $100 million by 2025. Tax proceeds and licensing fees are supposed to go into a newly created veterans health care fund, and are expected to generate about $20 million per year.

The rules posted Friday reflect changes made since the state published draft versions of the rules beginning in March and asked for public input. DSS received more than 500 comments with feedback, spokeswoman Lisa Cox said.

The rules and applications aren't permanent. They will remain in effect through February, when they can be changed as necessary, or based on feedback, Cox said. The department will accept further public comment on the rules in July and hold a public hearing.

Marijuana business hopefuls and people who want to use marijuana for medical purposes can start filling out application forms June 4; DSS will accept patient applications July 4 and business applications Aug. 3 through 17. Officials will have until Dec. 31 to score the business applications ahead of awarding licenses.

The state has raked in at least $3.67 million in fees from 510 pre-filed application forms for licenses to produce or sell marijuana or marijuana-infused products. The state is keeping the filers’ identities secret. The Post-Dispatch has sued the state to release the applicants’ names.

Missouri is required by law to approve at least 60 commercial growers, 86 facilities that manufacture marijuana-infused products and 192 dispensary licenses — 24 dispensaries for each of Missouri’s eight congressional districts.

The St. Louis area will probably have more than 48 dispensaries. Two congressional districts cover St. Louis and St. Louis County and parts of St. Charles, Jefferson and Franklin counties.
Missourians can apply for medical marijuana cards on June 28

MISSOURI (KMOV.com) -- The Missouri medical marijuana program registry will open on July 4.

Missourians can apply early for their Missouri medical marijuana cards beginning Friday, June 28.

A medical marijuana certification letter is required from a licensed physician in good standing with the state.

Once a patient has obtained this certification letter, they can apply to the state’s medical marijuana program by visiting the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services website.

The state can either accept or reject the application, or ask for further questions or details.

After approval, the patient will receive a state-issued medical marijuana card.

This card grants a patient access to buy, grow, transport, possess and use medical cannabis throughout Missouri.

Missouri residents must have documented evidence of one of 21 qualifying conditions: Alzheimer's disease (or agitation related to), any terminal illness, autism, cancer, Crohn's disease, chronic pain or neuropathy, epilepsy, glaucoma, hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS or cachexia or wasting syndrome, Huntington's disease, IBS, intractable migraines, Lou Gehrig's disease, multiple sclerosis, opioid substitution, Parkinson's disease, PTSD or other “debilitating psychiatric disorders,” Tourette syndrome, sickle cell anemia, and seizures.

If you do not have one of the 21 qualifying conditions, however, the State of Missouri added patients can bring their medical records to a medical marijuana doctor and this physician can determine if cannabis would help their ailments during the evaluation.
MO and every other dang state. I think its hilarious. Its the same in MD...suddenly, we were growing dozens of strains in our new med program but ain't NOBODY saying where the seed stock/clones came from...or how they got here. Its too funny.

'Immaculate Conception' needed to kickstart medical marijuana industry in Missouri
Federal law prohibits transporting seeds into MO

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The thing about miracles is that no one questions how they happen. That's the stance the medical marijuana industry and the state of Missouri are taking when it comes to how people are getting the seeds to start growing operations after voters passed Amendment 2 last November.
It's illegal to transport marijuana seeds into the state and within the state under current law, but growers have to get the seeds for a potentially massive new industry from somewhere.
"It's Immaculate Conception is what the industry-deemed word is," Gerry Donovan, who owns Emerald Garden in Kansas City, Missouri, said.
For people like Donovan, who wants to grow and sell medical marijuana in the next few months, the process should be well underway.
"I don't think anybody's going to talk about how Jesus was made and, so, with that, after people have their license, then genetics that are within the state are going to be legal," Donovan said.
Dispensaries will start popping up as the spring of 2020 approaches, so the product has to be ready. How it gets ready remains a legal gray area.
"The way the law is set up in Missouri, after December 31, 2020, you have to buy all your seeds from a licensed dispensary, but it's totally silent as to how you get your seeds before that time," Jon Dedon, an attorney who specializes in regulated industries, said.
Medical marijuana is highly regulated and Dedon said the state law makes sense overall, but certain areas remain a little sticky because of existing federal law.
"I guess theoretically, yes, they are setting them (growers) up to break the law, but then, on the other hand, my understanding is the authorities are sort of playing along with it and looking the other way," Dedon said.
The state's website does not and will not tell you how or where to get seeds.
"The department cannot advise anyone on where to obtain the means to grow marijuana," the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said in a statement. "The state does not have a supply. State law does not trump federal policy. Licensed facilities are permitted to transport product in Missouri."
Buying them from another state where marijuana is legal might still put someone at risk from a legal perspective.
"Most of the clients that are coming to us are sophisticated enough that they know how to get the seeds in," Dedon said.
Currently, people can have patient cards and grow medical marijuana, but it remains illegal to sell it for now.
Donovan suggested people might be getting their seeds from those people, but he will not comment on where he'll find his supply.
Missouri is the 33rd state to legalize medical marijuana, so many other states have dealt with a similar issue.
"I suspect, and I'm not speaking for the government, but I suspect the federal government wants this to work," Dedon said. "They don't want to cause a big conflict between federal enforcement prerogatives and state medical marijuana programs."
The state has yet to issue licenses for growing and selling medical marijuana. More than 2,200 businesses applied for a license, but only a small fraction will be accepted.
To watch the news clip, follow the title link.

Despite constitutional concerns, Independence votes down changes to medical marijuana zoning

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A legal battle could be looming over restrictions the Independence City Council has placed on medical marijuana businesses within city limits.

Independence City Council members voted to keep some of the state’s restrictive guidelines Monday as the medical marijuana industry begins to ramp up across Missouri.

On a 4-2 vote, the City Council voted to keep a 1,000-foot buffer for medical marijuana facilities from schools, churches and day cares along with additional buffers of 500 feet from residences and 1,200 feet from the Truman Library Institute despite claim those restrictions are unconstitutional.

“They’ve zoned it out of most of the city, so the people who are approved on their applications for zoning — and there would be very few — would have pretty much a monopoly and it would be at the edge of the city," longtime Independence resident Debra Holmes said, adding that the ordinance creates an unconstitutional undue burden.

Holmes said the new state law, which voters overwhelmingly approved in November 2018, cannot place an undue burden on patients or businesses.

“I smell foul,” Holmes said. “I’m sorry I just do.”

Holmes' main argument is the zoning, saying medical marijuana establishments will be barred from primary commerce corridors like Noland Road and U.S. 24.

"I think the neighborhood needs to have some input to a business that operates 100% on cash and operates selling a substance that is against federal law," Councilman Curt Dougherty said.

Councilman Scott Roberson, on the other hand, said the state guidelines were fine and "it's in the constitution now, so they don't have a choice."

“Originally, when it was brought to the City Council, it seemed like a good idea, because we could have a little more say as to what went on in Independence,” Councilman Scott Roberson said. “However, with all the political things that go on, it seems that there may be a little more politics to it than just that, and I think we ultimately need to just stick to the state guidelines and go with the state guidelines and be legal. I don’t want anything to put the city at risk and have any liability for the city.”

Roberson admitted that the city’s ordinance as it stands now “will greatly limit the accessibility and the location of medical marijuana facilities in independence.”

The City Council, which passed the original ordinance in July, was expected to pass an amended ordinance Monday that would add a definition of a medical marijuana transportation; keep the buffer for schools, churches and day cares at 1,000 feet; and eliminate the additional buffers for the Truman Library Institute and residences.

That likely would have headed off the possibility for litigation.

Instead, it seems likely a legal challenge is coming.

The first dispensaries are expected to open across the state in the spring of 2020.
To view news clip follow title link.

Medical marijuana patient says her rights were violated by Greene County Deputy

GREENE COUNTY, Mo. A year ago Missouri voters approved marijuana for medical purposes.

Emergency rules that issue protections for users and cultivators were issued by Missouri Secretary of State John Ashcroft on July 1, 2019.

Julie Gariepy believes her rights were violated under the current amendment to the Missouri constitution when Greene County Deputies took away her medication last week.

"He basically said you cannot possess until after January 1, 2020," she said.

Gariepy also helps others navigate through the process to apply for a user's license and follows the current laws closely.

"Article 14, page 16, section 5 says that patients can legally possess their four ounce limit now," she explained.

Growers and dispensaries will be established and regulated January 1, 2020.

"We have a choice in Missouri to either go to a dispensary or we can cultivate at home. A lot of us are choosing to cultivate at home because we know where our medication is coming from," she said.

Gariepy was a passenger in a car that was pulled over. She said she told deputies about her pot when asked if they'd find anything during a search.

She said that she presented her documentation required to show she had it legally, according to state law.

"The officer refused to see it, refused to even look at it," said Gariepy.

Medical marijuana patient, Lance Johnston had a much different experience with the highway patrol. He recorded a traffic stop a few months ago in which the trooper verified his use card and returned his marijuana.

"Cool. Thank you," he said.

"It feels weird for me too," said the trooper. They're going to get a database pretty soon. When they get the database then we will be able to run your number and it will tell us valid or not."

In a text message, Greene County Deputy James Craigmyle said that the Greene County Sheriff's Office's policy is to follow the law. The newness of this law and some confusion behind it may take some time to sort out.

Gariepy said she's hoping law enforcement will continue to work with patients like her.

"Reach out for education. There are people out there who are willing to come in and train you on article 14, on how to handle patients," she said.

We are following up on Gariepy's traffic stop with Sheriff Jim Arnott later this week.

To read the full list of current medical marijuana laws for use in Missouri, click on the link in this story.
Seems like just more fighting over the pot of gold and who gets it.

Probe into roll out of Missouri’s medical marijuana expands

A legislative probe into the roll out of Missouri’s medical marijuana program has expanded into Gov. Mike Parson’s office.
A House panel is seeking records involving the Republican governor’s deputy chief of staff, chief operating officer and a longtime adviser to the governor who has been under FBI scrutiny, The Kansas City Star reported.

The Missouri House Special Committee on Government Oversight on Thursday sent a letter to the Department of Health and Senior Services demanding records of interactions with industry insiders and details on how key decisions were made.

The governor’s office and DHSS did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

State Rep. Robert Ross, the committee’s Republican chairman, wrote in the letter that the records request stemmed from “too many unanswered questions” by the department’s officials during earlier public hearings.

The investigation, which had been paused because of the COVID-19 pandemic, resumed because of DHSS Director Randall Williams’ recent comments that its staff have continued their work and dispensaries are on track to open this summer, Ross said.

Ross also provided the committee with a copy of a whistleblower complaint accusing the department of lying to legislators during public testimony. The unsigned letter, which Ross received in March from someone purporting to be a DHSS employee, also questions the qualifications and salaries of those running the medical marijuana program.
The state Auditor’s Office said it has received two whistleblower complaints about the operations and the application process of the medical marijuana program. Steph Deidrick, spokeswoman for Democratic state Auditor Nicole Galloway, said the information was referred to law enforcement after review by its public corruption and fraud division.

The newspaper reported in March that the department was served with a federal grand jury subpoena last year seeking information about four medical marijuana applicants.
The legislative investigation was sparked by allegations of irregularities and alleged conflicts of interest over in how license applications were scored.
Kansas City Mayor Files Measure To Remove All Local Penalties For Marijuana Possession

The mayor of Kansas City introduced an ordinance on Wednesday that would end all penalties for marijuana possession under the municipality’s local laws. He also plans to pursue efforts to remove other “minor drug offenses from our code.”

Mayor Quinton Lucas (D) and four members of the City Council filed the cannabis measure, which would repeal a provision of the Code of Ordinances stipulating that possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana carries a $25 fine and more than 35 grams is punishable by a $500 fine.

“One of the ways we improve police-community relations is by eliminating laws that for too long have led to negative interactions, arrests, convictions, and disproportionate rates of incarceration of Black men and Black women,” Lucas said in a press release. “Reducing petty offenses—such as municipal marijuana offenses—reduce these negative interactions each day.”

While this measure would not change Missouri state laws that continue to criminalize cannabis for non-medical use, the mayor said the city “doesn’t need to be in that business” and “instead, we remain focused on how we can help open doors to new opportunities and empower people to make a decent living.”

The ordinance is expected to be taken up by the Council’s Finance, Governance, and Public Safety Committee on Wednesday and then go before the full Council the next day.

Text of the measure describes racial disparities in marijuana possession arrests and states that the Council “believes future resources should be focused on the prevention, investigation, and prosecution of violent crime in Kansas City.”

“In 2018 voters overwhelmingly showed their support for medicinal marijuana, making it clear that they want to see reform,” Councilwoman Ryana Parks-Shaw said, referring to the statewide voter-approved measure establishing a medical cannabis market. “Cosponsoring this legislation is a good first step.”

The year prior to the medical marijuana vote, Kansas City residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of a local ballot measure to decriminalize possession of up to 35 grams of cannabis.

In February, Lucas announced a pardon program for those with previous convictions for possession of marijuana or paraphernalia.

A campaign to legalize marijuana for adult use in Missouri ended in April due to complications from the coronavirus pandemic.

The mayor isn’t singularly focused on marijuana, either. He introduced a separate resolution calling on the city manager to review all ordinances in the code that “that have led to negative interactions, arrest, conviction, and incarceration of black men and black women in disproportionately high numbers.” That includes “those covering minor drug offenses.”

“I’ll be clear. We should remove any marijuana or minor drug offenses from our code,” he said.

A vote on that resolution is on the Council agenda for Thursday, and a spokesperson for the mayor told Marijuana Moment “we’re optimistic it will” pass.

“I imagine other low-level drugs will continue to be a part of this conversation,” the spokesperson said.

Lucas’s ordinance is the latest example of officials and lawmakers taking proactive steps to pursue drug policy reform, with many acknowledging the role criminalization plays in perpetuating racial injustices.

Nevada’s governor introduced a resolution that was approved on Wednesday to automatically pardon more than 15,000 people with cannabis possession convictions.

Colorado lawmakers passed a bill this week that will allow that state’s governor to unilaterally pardon people with past convictions for possessing up to two ounces of marijuana.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said earlier this month that legalization was “about addressing the ills of this war on drugs.”

The governor of Virginia recently said that the passage of marijuana decriminalization legislation this year represents an example of how his state has addressed racial inequities that are inspiring mass protests over recent police killings of black Americans.
Marijuana Violations Will No Longer Be Cited In Kansas City, MO

A proposal to lift penalties for marijuana possession in Kansas City has been voted into action.

In Kansas City, you no longer need to sweat it if you’re holding a little bud.

That’s because the City Council on Thursday passed a new measure removing marijuana from the city’s code of ordinances. The measure passed the council by a vote of 9-4, according to local television station KMBC. With its passage, marijuana is essentially decriminalized in Kansas City.

The proposal was offered up last month by Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, a Democrat, along with four other council members.

“One of the ways we improve police-community relations is by eliminating laws that for too long have led to negative interactions, arrests, convictions, and disproportionate rates of incarceration of Black men and Black women,” Lucas said at the time. “Reducing petty offenses—such as municipal marijuana offenses—reduce these negative interactions each day.”

In a tweet on Thursday heralding the vote, Lucas noted that the measure comes on the heels of two significant votes on marijuana policy in Kansas City and Missouri. In 2017, voters in Kansas City approved a measure—by a margin of 72-25—to decriminalize marijuana for 35 grams or less, opting instead to impose a mere $35 fine. A year later, voters in Missouri overwhelmingly approved a measure legalizing medical marijuana. Thursday’s vote, Lucas seemed to be saying, followed in that tradition.

“The City doesn’t need to be in the marijuana policing business—and we remain focused on helping open doors to new opportunities & empowering people to make a decent living,” Lucas said in the tweet.

KC’s Pro-Cannabis Mayor
Lucas was elected mayor last year, and he made marijuana reform one of his top campaign positions, vowing to pardon “all stand-alone municipal marijuana convictions.” He followed through on that pledge in February, offering pardons for a number of such past offenses in Kansas City some of which span decades.

“Society can’t just simply say … in 2020, we think marijuana is OK, but if you were somebody who got in trouble in 2019, or if you’re somebody who’s getting in trouble today but you just don’t happen to be pursuing a medical marijuana license, or you just don’t happen to be in the right place, or you can’t afford a lawyer when you’re stopped — that you should have to suffer some greater imposition of sentence than someone else can,” Lucas said in announcing the pardons, as quoted by the Kansas City Star.

In detailing the proposal to remove marijuana from Kansas City’s code of ordinance last month, Lucas characterized the measure as part of an effort to end “laws that lead to disproportionate stops and incarceration of Black women and Black men.”

“Petty drug offenses are an area of the greatest disparity by race despite similar marijuana usage across races,” said Lucas, who is Black. “Decriminalization does not mean we eliminate public health and mental health resources for those dealing with substance abuse. It means we don’t incarcerate folks who may well need treatment instead. We spend money on treatment rather than jailing too many from our communities.”

Medical marijuana in Missouri could be available this month

A St. Louis County lab's approval to start testing samples of marijuana means that commercial marijuana for medical use could be on the shelves this month.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that EKG Labs in Maryland Heights on Sept. 26 became the first of 10 licensed medical marijuana testers to start operations after passing a state inspection.
As a result, marijuana being grown by commercial cultivators may undergo state-required testing for safety and potency. Once approved, it can be sold at dispensaries.
EKG's director of operations, Natalie Brown, said testing could begin in the upcoming week.

“We’re hopeful that there will be product on the shelves and dispensaries by early- to mid-October for the patients,” Brown said.
Missouri voters in 2018 approved medical marijuana. As of Tuesday, five commercial growers and six dispensaries had passed inspections from the state health department to start growing and selling pot legally. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services administers the state's medical marijuana program.
Missouri has issued 60 licenses to grow marijuana, 86 to make marijuana-infused products and 192 to open dispensaries, but the vast majority of businesses are still setting up and working through state regulations.
Still, just knowing that testing will be available as soon as the marijuana is grown and ready to be packaged and sold is a relief to business owners, said Susan Griffith, president of CAMP Cannabis, which stands for Certified Alternative Medicine Providers.
CAMP expects to undergo its last inspection in December and start planting marijuana early next year, Griffith said. The company hopes to sell to dispensaries by spring.
“As soon as we’re approved we are prepared to get plants in the ground immediately,” Griffith said.
Demand could be high: Up to 70,000 Missourians have state permits to legally use medical marijuana.
They may not all need dispensaries. At least 17,517 qualified card-holders were also approved to grow a limited amount of marijuana at home, under strict regulations.
EKG will travel to marijuana growers to gather a representative sample for testing at its lab. It will screen for pesticides, toxins, metals, moisture content and potency.

Missouri Launches Medical Marijuana Sales At State’s First Dispensaries

Less than two years after Missouri voters approved a ballot measure to legalize medical marijuana, dispensaries made the state’s first cannabis sales to patients on Saturday.

N’Bliss Cannabis opened the doors of two separate St. Louis County locations, in Ellisville and Manchester.

I was honored to watch Larry, a cancer survivor, and his wife Sue, an RN, make the state’s first legal medical cannabis purchase this morning in St Louis. @mocanntrade @NewApproachMOpic.twitter.com/rCudrkdbfI
— Jack Cardetti (@jackcardetti) October 17, 2020

“Missouri patients have always been our north star as we work to implement the state’s medical marijuana program,” Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, said in a press release. “We greatly appreciate how hard everyone has worked so that patients can begin accessing a safe and well-regulated program.”

Officials have touted the speed with which they have gotten the voter-approved cannabis program off the ground, saying it is “one of the fastest implementations of a medical marijuana program in the United States.”


“A tremendous amount of work has occurred by the licensed facilities and our team to get us to this point, and we continue to hear from more facilities that they are ready or almost ready for their commencement inspection,” Lyndall Fraker, director of the Section for Medical Marijuana Regulation, said in a press release. “We look forward to seeing these facilities open their doors to serve patients and caregivers.”

First #medicalmarijuana sales to patients in #MOtake place today.
DHSS interactive facility map: https://t.co/Os2yc0jBdUpic.twitter.com/tpzztI9sOh
— Mo Health & Sr Srvcs (@HealthyLivingMo) October 17, 2020

The impending launch of sales on Saturday was first announced by the Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association on Friday and reported by The Springfield News-Leader.

The wait is finally over! Tomorrow morning at 9am @NBlissCannabis will open the doors to their Ellisville and Manchester locations for the first medical marijuana sales in Missouri! Congrats to the whole N'Bliss team! The #MOMMJ industry is up and running! pic.twitter.com/wyZIcoyLBv
— MoCannTrade (@mocanntrade) October 16, 2020

The state, which has so far licensed 192 dispensaries and expects most of them to open their doors by the end of the year, posted an interactive map that tracks the status of approved medical marijuana businesses.

For months, regulators have been caught up in lawsuits and appeals challenging their licensing decisions, with revenues that would otherwise go to supporting veteran services instead being allocated to covering legal costs.

Missouri Lawmaker’s New Bill Would Put Marijuana Legalization On 2022 Ballot

Voters in Missouri could decide in 2022 whether to legalize marijuana under a plan prefiled this week in the state House of Representatives. The proposal would scrap the state’s existing medical cannabis law and replace it with a simpler system meant to serve both patients and adult consumers.

Republican Rep. Shamed Dogan introduced the joint resolution Tuesday, ahead of the new legislative session set to begin next week. Both the House and Senate would need to approve the legislation for the legalization question to go to voters.

“I believe in free markets,” Dogan told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Tuesday, “and I want to regulate marijuana as closely as possible to the regulations we have on alcohol, tobacco and other products.”

The proposed constitutional amendment, HJR 30, or the Smarter and Safer Missouri Act, would legalize marijuana for adults 21 and over and establish a commercial cannabis industry, taxing sales at 12 percent. Unlike legal marijuana programs in most other states, it would require no special licensing “beyond that which is applicable for the cultivating, harvesting, processing, manufacturing, packaging, distributing, transferring, displaying, or possession of any nontoxic food or food product,” according to language of the joint resolution.

Private marijuana cultivation for personal or medical use would also be allowed under the proposal, although the amendment provides no details on whether plant limits or other restrictions would apply.

Advocates attempted to qualify a citizen-initiated legalization measure for last November’s election, but the COVID-19 pandemic scuttled the signature-gathering effort. They’re widely expected to attempt to qualify a 2022 measure that could compete with Dogan’s plan.

Revenue from Dogan’s proposed system would go to a new state fund that would be split among the Missouri Veterans Commission, state infrastructure projects and drug treatment programs.

Courts in the state would be required to expunge all civil and criminal records of “non-violent, marijuana-only offenses that are no longer illegal” within 60 days of the amendment’s passage. Law enforcement would be directed to immediately release anyone incarcerated for such offenses.

There is no mention of social equity or minorities in the proposal, although Dogan, for years the only Black Republican in the state legislature, noted racial disparities in cannabis law enforcement in an opinion piece published last year. By contrast, some other states have directed revenue from legal cannabis to fund communities disproportionately affected by prohibition or designed licensing systems designed to give priority to people from those communities.

The Missouri proposal represents both an effort at criminal justice reform and a rejection of the state’s existing medical marijuana program, which voters approved in 2018. The opaque scoring process for awarding business licenses under the system has drawn lawsuits by applicants denied licenses and sparked controversy among lawmakers. Earlier this year, one Republican senator called the process “one of the biggest boondoggles I have seen in my business life.”

The first legal sales of medical marijuana began in October, and licensing is still in its early stages. As of state numbers released December 23, just 20 dispensaries have been approved to operate, despite the law allowing up to 196 dispensary licenses to be granted. As for manufacturers, only one company can currently produce cannabis-infused products legally in the state.

Critics have complained that the existing licensing caps and scoring process have unfairly limited competition, disadvantaged minority applicants, slowed the program’s rollout and led to higher prices for patients. They’ve also pointed out that millions of dollars in revenue from the fledgling program have gone to cover legal fees rather than programs for veterans, as the law intends. Regulators have countered that they’ve managed to meet constitutional deadlines despite numerous court challenges and procedural obstacles.

Dogan’s new plan would erase the language of the 2018 constitutional amendment in its entirety, including its licensing process and limits on the number of licenses available. In his comments to the Post-Dispatch, Dogan called the current system “too burdensome and too bureaucratic.”

“People might want to take the opportunity to have us take a leading role in this,” he said, “and to craft something that’s not going to be burdensome.”

Medical marijuana would remain legal under the proposed constitutional amendment, with little mention of how it would be regulated or distinguished from consumer products. A medical marijuana section in the amendment says the drug “shall be available to patients, who have a physician’s recommendation for its use” and that patients “shall be afforded the same rights and privileges afforded to any patient treated through conventional therapeutic means, regardless of whether the person is under the care of a physician.”

Marijuana sold for medical use would be taxed at four percent, the same rate as currently applies.

Other provisions in the proposal would prevent Missouri police agencies or state money from assisting with federal marijuana prohibition enforcement efforts, attempt to protect gun owners’ right to bear arms and ban civil asset forfeiture for marijuana offenses.

“This initiative will increase personal freedom, allow law enforcement to focus on violent crime instead of nonviolent marijuana users, and provide revenue for infrastructure, broadband, and drug treatment,” Dogan told Greenway. “I am confident Missouri voters will support these commonsense ideas when they have the opportunity to vote on adult use.”

Dogan’s proposed constitutional amendment is one of a handful of cannabis-related bills prefiled ahead of the coming legislative session. Other bills include proposals to criminalize the disclosure of medical marijuana patient information to unauthorized parties (HB 198, HB 501), expunge certain low-level cannabis offenses (HB 408, HB 546, SB 190), prevent adoption agencies from discriminating against patients who have medical marijuana recommendations or work in the industry (HB 485) and expand the ability of patients to consume cannabis in rental housing and other lodging (HB 486).

Two other proposed House measures would legalize marijuana through statute rather than via Dogan’s constitutional amendment approach: HB 263, sponsored by Rep. Peter Merideth (D), and HB 325, by Rep. Wiley Price IV (D).

Similar proposals were introduced in 2020 (HB 1978) and 2019 (HB 551).

Earlier this year, the House of Representatives defeated an amendment that would have required lawmakers consume a “substantial” amount of marijuana before voting on any legislation. Its sponsor told Marijuana Moment the plan was meant in jest to “get everyone to chill out and get a little chuckle.”

Bill To Allow Medical Marijuana Use At Hotels And Airbnbs Filed In Missouri

Hotels, Airbnbs and other lodging facilities in Missouri would be allowed to let medical marijuana patients consume cannabis on their properties under a recently filed bill.

The legislation, titled the “Reduction of Illegal Public Consumption by Allowing for Compassionate Access to Medical Marijuana Act,” would require the state Department of Health and Senior Services to create a new “medical marijuana lodging establishment” license for the facilities. They would have to submit an application and a $50 fee to the agency in order to obtain the new approval.

Once licensed, lodging facilities would have to follow certain rules such as confirming that guests are registered medical cannabis patients, posting signage that says marijuana can be consumed on the property and ensuring that consumption areas are at least 25 feet away from sections where its prohibited.

Places that knowingly permit cannabis to be used without a license would be subject to a $1,000 fine for a first offense, $2,000 for a second, $5,000 for a third and the suspension of their business license for a fourth.

Theoretically, if this bill is approved, it could promote tourism in the state, as it specifically allows hotels and other facilities to accept out-of-state medical cannabis certifications for guests.

There’s a similar policy on the books in Colorado, where a bill providing for social consumption site licenses was signed last year.

In a new related study, researchers took a look at the prevalence of Airbnbs allowing marijuana consumptions in Denver and found that it’s surprisingly common—much more so than for tobacco use.

“A substantial number of Airbnb listings in Denver, Colorado permit cannabis use and venues permitting cannabis use may be more likely to also permit tobacco smoking,” the abstract says.

About one-in-four facilities included details about their marijuana policy in the listing, and 76 percent of those permitted cannabis use while 31 percent let guests use tobacco.

The focus of the study, published this month in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, was to analyze indoor clear air issues related to marijuana at Airbnbs. It concluded that the facilities should “consider including cannabis use in house rules in jurisdictions that have legalized cannabis to help guests identify spaces with clean air.”

Missouri’s marijuana laws might not be as progressive as Colorado’s, but a Republican lawmaker did file a joint resolution last month that calls for adult-use legalization to be placed before voters on the 2022 ballot

Missouri Medical Marijuana Business Ownership Info Would Be Disclosed Under House-Approved Amendment

The state isn’t supposed to issue more than five dispensary licenses to any entity under substantially common control, ownership or management—but an analysis found instances where a single entity was connected to more than five licenses.

By Jason Hancock, Missouri Independent

The Missouri House voted Tuesday afternoon to require state regulators to turn over ownership information for businesses granted medical marijuana licenses to legislative oversight committees.

The amendment, which was approved 82-59, was sponsored by Rep. Peter Merideth, D-St. Louis. He said the Department of Health and Senior Service’s decision to deem ownership records confidential has caused problems in providing oversight of the program.

Tuesday’s vote came a day after analysis by The Independent and the Missourian of the 192 dispensary licenses issued by the state found several instances where a single entity was connected to more than five dispensary licenses.

According to the constitution, the state can’t issue more than five dispensary licenses to any entity under substantially common control, ownership or management.

But because DHSS has steadfastly withheld any ownership information about license holders from public disclosure, it’s impossible to determine who owns what.

The situation has bred suspicion, especially in light of more than a year of scrutiny by state lawmakers into widespread reports of irregularities in how license applications were scored and allegations of conflicts of interest within DHSS and a private company hired to score applications.

“We’ve asked the department: ‘Are there any entities that have complex ownership structures so that someone that owns one license actually owns or has a controlling interest in a whole bunch of others?’” Merideth said. “The department said, ‘nope.’ We asked for records to confirm that, and the department said, ‘nope.’”

He has no reason to trust the department, Merideth said, “based on how this program has been managed so far,” adding later that DHSS is in “dire need of accountability and transparency.”

His amendment would not require DHSS to make ownership information publicly available. The department would only be required to turn records over to legislative committees upon request.

Joining him in support of the amendment was Republican Rep. Jered Taylor of Republic, who is chairman of the special committee on government oversight.

“The department should be disclosing this information,” he said, saying he’d actually support going further and making the information publicly available.

Taylor later added: “If we want to do our jobs correctly, we have to have the information.”

DHSS justifies withholding the information from public disclosure by pointing to a portion of the medical marijuana constitutional amendment adopted by voters in 2018 that says the department shall “maintain the confidentiality of reports or other information obtained from an applicant or licensee containing any individualized data, information, or records related to the licensee or its operation… .”

Rep. Shamed Dogan, R-Ballwin, said DHSS is asking lawmakers and the public to trust that they are enforcing limits on license ownership.

“When I as a Republican I hear ‘trust us’ from the government,” he said, “I usually say no. Trust but verify.”

Merideth’s amendment was added to a Senate bill pertaining to nonprofit organizations. The legislation now heads back to the Senate, where it can either vote to send it to the governor or request a conference committee to work out differences with the House.

This story was first published by Missouri Independent.

Missouri Probation Officers Send Patients Back To Prison For Using Legal Medical Marijuana

Voters legalized medical cannabis, but some patients are still being incarcerated for it.

On June 23, 29-year-old Ray Breer walked through the gates of the Western Reception Diagnostic Correctional Center north of Kansas City into the arms of his family.

“My girlfriend, my mom and my son were all waiting for me on the other side of the gate,” he told me over Zoom. “We got yelled at by the guards ‘cuz we’re all stood there, taking pictures….”

There was a lot of catching up to do. He’d missed the birth of his son, having been taken into custody a few weeks before, in February.

And his “crime,” which cost him his liberty? He’s a registered medical marijuana patient, serving probation for… a marijuana charge. He initially got in trouble with the law for a possession charge back in August 2019, and went to prison for a short spell in 2020 after getting kicked out of drug court for smoking joints. In order to stay safe while on probation, he obtained a medical marijuana card, as is his constitutional right in Missouri.

Yet after a pee test came up positive for THC, that was enough for his probation officer to send him to prison. In court, they told him it’s a privilege to be on probation and that in the future, they are most likely not going to offer probation to medical marijuana patients.

Breer was one of many drug-war prisoners in the Show-Me State supported by the Canna Convict Project (CCP), which brought in expert witnesses to try and sway his case.

“Probation and Parole and DOC is not recognizing a patient’s ability to medicate while on supervision.”

“Our mission is to assist our non-violent Missouri cannabis inmates—POWs, we call them—with their exit from incarceration, and assisting them with their re-entry needs,” co-founder Christina Frommer told Filter. “They kind of become family. I create a relationship with all of the POWs, with their families. I buy their children presents. We try and give the whole person care.”

CCP is fighting for the rights of the many impacted patients across the state to be allowed to access their medicine. Even though cannabis has widely recognised medical uses, many Missouri law enforcement and probation officers still view it as the devil’s narcotic, an assumption being challenged in the courts.

“The probation and parole issue here in Missouri is that PNP [Probation and Parole] and DOC [Department of Corrections] is not recognizing a patient’s ability to medicate while on supervision,” Frommer said. “Some of the individuals have really cool probation officers or parole officers, and they’ve been allowed to medicate while they’ve been on supervision, no problem. And others have gone as far as receiving sanctions and gotten put back in prison.”

In November 2018, 65 percent of Missouri voters approved an amendment to the constitution, which states that: “the possession of marijuana … shall not subject the possessor to arrest, criminal or civil liability, or sanctions … provided that the possessor produces on demand to the appropriate authority a valid qualifying patient identification card; a valid qualifying patient cultivation identification card; a valid physician certification while making application for an identification card; or a valid primary caregiver identification card.”

Breer had such a card, on account of his mental health condition and bipolar II disorder. It didn’t help.

It isn’t just those already in the justice system who get in trouble, either. In November 2019, 48-year-old Jamie Wilson was pulled over with his grandson by a Highway Patrol trooper while driving through Daviess County. The officer found 8 ounces of weed in his truck, which was within the limits he was allowed as a card-carrying marijuana patient. But Wilson was arrested for possession and child endangerment. The charges were later dropped, but it goes to show the drug-war mentality that persists in the state.

A Legal Battle Brewing​

Canna Convict has identified many more cases of Missourians being locked up for their lawful medication, including those convicted on all sorts of non-drug charges. It is now taking the Missouri authorities to court with the help of lawyer Timothy Intessimone (the case is not being filed on behalf of Breer or Wilson, but another one of Intessimone’s clients).

“My involvement with CCP was after I met Christina and seeing the work her, Joani [Harshman]and Chris [Smith] were doing,” Intessimone told Filter. “I was highly impressed with the dedication and devotion to criminal justice reform, so my office really meshed with the groove of the project.”

Intessimone said his work is motivated by a desire to give back to others, especially those from poorer communities disproportionately impacted by criminalization.

“Civil rights is kind of my wheelhouse … and what the law’s impact is on people that cannot afford attorneys,” he said. “I grew up very, very low-income–roach-infested house, mom working multiple jobs to get her associate’s degree for a better life. The same people that are disproportionately affected … are the same people that may not have a voice to stand up and fight.”

In the United States, marijuana currently lies in a kind of legal purgatory, between a confusing array of state laws, some fully legalized and others less so, and federal law, which remains staunchly prohibitionist. Taking it across state lines remains a federal crime, even if you’re unlikely to run into a DEA checkpoint in the Lincoln Tunnel.

The argument Intessimone will bring before the court is that of states’ rights: If the issue is one of federal law, how are the wishes of Missourians being taken into account?

“Without a doubt, every state that has a medical [marijuana] program had to deal with this in one way or another,” he explained. “And it’s like anything else: You go to Nevada, you can go to a brothel, it’s been voted on by the people in Nevada. Why is the federal court getting involved in what the people in Missouri, or Nevada, or Colorado want to do? We’re dealing with a new, multi-billion dollar industry, and we’re at a point where the federal government says, ‘yeah, you can do it, and we’re not going to come in and stop you from doing it.’ But at the same time, they’re saying, ‘well, you can’t do it.’”

“We’re asking the court to decide and clarify whether he [the client] can lawfully use medical marijuana, with a valid Missouri medical card, while on probation,” he continued. “However, that’s not what the case is really about. The case is more about the Missouri Constitution. It is about whether a state agency, acting under state law, under the state constitution, can punish someone while the amendment plainly states that they cannot be criminally punished under the state constitution.”

Marijuana is still classed as a Schedule I controlled substance by the DEA, with “no currently accepted medical use,” even though it’s known to be efficient in treating conditions including multiple sclerosis and for pain relief. The official stance of the Missouri authorities—when it comes to probation—seems to be in line with the feds.

“The terms of probation and parole vary from person to person,” Karen Pojmann, communications director for the Missouri Department of Corrections, told Filter in an email. “These terms don’t always align with the rights and behaviors exercised by people who have not been convicted of a felony. For example, in Missouri it’s legal for adults to own firearms, consume alcohol, or interact with children. However, someone on probation or parole might be prohibited from doing one or all of these things as part of their conditions. Generally speaking, use of cannabis is prohibited, regardless of whether the person has a medical marijuana card.”

This suggests that cannabis is still seen as a vice that those unlucky enough to fall into the state’s clutches must avoid in order to become law-abiding citizens, rather than a medicine (which it is, according to state law).

The next hearing of the case is set for August 23.

Ray Breer, meanwhile, is still on probation. He’s trying to find work and spending more time with his son.

“He sleeps for a bit then he’s up, and he’s crying, but I still love it,” he said. “I’ve had him almost every day. We went to the pool. I’m being a new father and I’m loving it.”

Missouri voters might see two adult-use cannabis measures in 2022​

Published 2 hours ago

Missouri voters could well be asked to weigh in on two recreational marijuana legalization measures on the 2022 election ballot.
Legal Missouri 2022. as expected, recently filed paperwork with the Secretary of State’s Office, while Fair Access Missouri continues to work on getting initiatives on the ballot to strengthen the existing medical cannabis market as well as legalize adult-use sales.

Many of the Fair Access initiatives have been rejected so far, but the group made two additional filings last week.
Legal Missouri 2022 is backed by some of the same activists who were behind Missourians for a New Approach.
That group’s effort to get adult use on the ballot in 2020 was stymied by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Legal Missouri 2022 is proposing a 6% sales tax and a provision that would expunge the records of some marijuana-related offenses, according to media reports.
Fair Access is focusing on an initiative that would provide “equitable licensing,” low barriers to entry and low taxes, according to its website.

Missouri Spends Millions In Medical Marijuana Tax Revenue To Support Veterans Programs

Missouri officials on Thursday announced that they have transferred millions of dollars in medical marijuana tax revenue to support programs for military veterans.

This is the second round of cannabis funding for the Missouri Veterans Commission (MVC), raising the total to $6,843,310. Overall, the state has seen more than $113 million in medical marijuana sales since dispensaries opened in October 2020, enabling regulators to make the significant transfers.

“Patients are being served by more than 140 dispensary facilities in Missouri now, and we are very pleased to see their sales revenue where it is,” Lyndall Fraker, the medical cannabis director of the Department of Health and Senior Services, said in a press release. “Ultimately, this is how we are able to provide much-needed funding for the veteran’s commission.”

Paul Kirchhoff, executive director of MVC, said the commission “will use these funds for veterans’ health and safety initiatives,” adding that the dollars will also allow them to complete a columbarium wall at a veterans cemetery.


Meanwhile, at least two activists groups in the state are aiming to place the question of adult-use marijuana legalization before voters in 2022. Establishing a regulated, recreational cannabis model could serve as another source of tax revenue for Missouri.

Under Legal Missouri 2022’s proposal, tax revenue from marijuana sales would first support automatic expungements for people with prior cannabis convictions and then go to programs for veterans’ health care, substance misuse treatment and the state’s public defender system.

New Approach Missouri, which has the same leaders as one of the new 2022 efforts, successfully got its medical cannabis measure passed by voters in 2018 in a year in which competing marijuana proposals were also on the ballot.

The organization tried to place the issue of recreational legalization before voters last year, but the COVID-19 pandemic derailed that effort.

Meanwhile, some advocates want the legislature to take the lead on reform. And Rep. Shamed Dogan (R), who filed a resolution last year to ask voters about legalization on the ballot and compel lawmakers to develop a legal system if approved, is expected to make another push for similar legislation early next year after the prior effort failed to advance this session.

St. Louis Lawmakers Move To Decriminalize Marijuana Possession And Cultivation

St. Louis lawmakers have given preliminary approval to a local measure to broadly decriminalize marijuana in the city.

The proposal cleared the near-final “perfection” stage by the Board of Aldermen on Friday after passing on second reading earlier this month. It now requires a third reading vote for final passage.

While the measure from from Alderman Bret Narayan (D) wouldn’t change Missouri state laws that continue to criminalize cannabis, local ordinances penalizing low-level possession and cultivation would be repealed.

Adults 21 and older could possess up to two ounces of marijuana without facing the civil penalty that’s currently in place. It would also make it so that “no resources” could be spent to punish adults for cultivating up to six flowering plants.

The proposal would additional allow city employees who are medical cannabis patients to present their state-issued ID cards “to avoid adverse employer actions based on a positive drug test for marijuana.”

The measure, which has 11 cosponsors, is also supported by Mayor Tishaura Jones (D). A spokesperson for the mayor told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the “intention is to free up police resources so they don’t even have to worry about arresting someone for a victimless crime.”

Narayan’s bill would specifically prohibit the use of city resources to enforce laws against low-level cannabis possession, as well as possession of drug paraphernalia.

Further, it would prevent police from using the smell or visual presence of marijuana smoke as a basis to conduct a search or arrest someone.

“What this attempts to do is stop the creation of a second class of individual which would perpetually be subject to searches based on the presence of marijuana either on their person or in their home or in their automobile,” Narayan said ahead of Friday’s vote, adding that “there’s also a strong racial component here.”

“We know that black folks, from other data, do not use marijuana at higher rates than any other racial group,” he said. Yet an analysis of three years of data found that black people make up the vast majority of cannabis-related arrests in the city.

Narayan said the legislation is meant to build upon the city’s earlier 2018 reform move, when lawmakers made it so the penalty for possession would be a $25 fine. The new bill would repeal statute allowing for a penalty altogether.

“It’s long past time that we updated these kind of relics of laws,” the sponsor said, noting that the current policy can still leave people with a record that can jeopardize things like access to public housing.

Activities that would remain criminalized include providing marijuana to underage people, possessing excess cannabis and selling marijuana at a property that prohibits it.

An amendment that was adopted to the bill ahead of the perfection vote prohibits the public use of marijuana “except for displays and consumption on private residential property where the person consuming marijuana is either an owner of the property, a person who has a leasehold interest in the property, or any other person who has been granted express or implied permission to consume marijuana on the property by the owner or the lessee of the property.”

The “whereas” section of the bill states that the reform is necessary because “individual residents of the State of Missouri are now permitted to be in possession of marijuana and to cultivate marijuana under certain circumstances” and the “City of St. Louis seeks to avoid subjecting to invasive searches and seizures citizens who are lawfully availing themselves of medical therapies provided for the state constitution.”

Missouri voters approved a medical cannabis ballot measure in 2018.

The measure further says “it is the responsibility of the Board of Alderman to harmonize the ordinances of the City of St. Louis with Missouri State law.”

This action from the Board of Alderman comes one year after the Kansas City, Missouri City Council voted to approve an ordinance ending all penalties for marijuana possession under the municipality’s local laws.

In that city, Mayor Quinton Lucas (D) and four local lawmakers filed the cannabis measure, which similarly repeals a provision of the Code of Ordinances stipulating that possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana carries a $25 fine and more than 35 grams is punishable by a $500 fine.

In September, the City Council also approved a measure making it so most government workers in Kansas City will no longer face pre-employment drug tests for cannabis.

Meanwhile, at least two activists groups in the state are aiming to place the question of adult-use marijuana legalization before voters in 2022.

Under Legal Missouri 2022’s proposal, tax revenue from marijuana sales would first support automatic expungements for people with prior cannabis convictions and then go to programs for veterans’ health care, substance misuse treatment and the state’s public defender system.

New Approach Missouri, which has the same leaders as one of the new 2022 efforts, successfully got its medical cannabis measure passed by voters in 2018 in a year in which competing marijuana proposals were also on the ballot.

The organization tried to place the issue of recreational legalization before voters last year, but the COVID-19 pandemic derailed that effort.

Meanwhile, some advocates want the legislature to take the lead on reform. And Rep. Shamed Dogan (R), who filed a resolution last year to ask voters about legalization on the ballot and compel lawmakers to develop a legal system if approved, is expected to make another push for similar legislation early next year after the prior effort failed to advance this session.

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