One of the most significant changes to the state of Missouri in the November election was the legalization of recreational marijuana in Missouri. What a strange but inevitable outcome for Missouri residents.
In a state where for years, people hid their "weed" habits from authorities in fear of "catching a case." People have spent significant time in jails and prisons because police "busted them with pot."
Parents have lost their children to the Division of Family Services over weed. Families destroyed and jobs lost, weed has been illegal for quite a while in Missouri. Now, after one election, all of this will change.
Many are celebrating the legalization, and rightly so; however, it seems almost bittersweet. It's hard to forget the devastation marijuana prohibition created in people's lives, especially since so many are still navigating the consequences of being caught by police with pot.
So what does this mean for Missouri residents?
The first thing that will happen is on December 8th, the Department of Health and Senior Services will begin the transition of current dispensaries operating solely to supply Missourians with medical licenses to recreational dispensaries.
They are the only businesses allowed to sell marijuana for the first year and a half of the "recreational transition."
Don't get excited, though, because you will not be able to run down to your favorite "pot shop" and grab some "bud" next week. It will take until well into February before the recreational side of things will be up and running and available.
What about everyone in prison for pot in Missouri?
"Any person who is currently incarcerated due to a misdemeanor marijuana offense or a class E or D felony that involved three pounds or less of marijuana can petition the sentencing court to vacate the sentence and order the expungement of their records. The expungement should be granted, absent good cause for denial. The same goes for persons on probation or parole for marijuana-related misdemeanors and low-level felonies." -----NPR KC
Oregon County, Missouri Sheriff Eric King, expressed concerns for the upcoming legalization date, saying he has many unanswered questions involving things like impairment guidelines and endangering the welfare of a child,
"Hoping to receive more information from the Missouri State Attorney General, maybe the Highway Patrol, or the Missouri Sheriff's Association. What I have gotten so far has been from the Sheriff's Association. Hopefully, we'll get more guidance from it, even the prosecutors and the courts." Missouri Sherriff Eric King
Following are the recreational stipulations that are clear at this time:
- Consumers must be 21 to buy and smoke pot in Missouri.
- People from other states can legally come to Missouri and purchase pot but cannot take it back into states where it is not legal.
- You will be permitted to grow up to 24 plants, but there are specific rules about the number and types of plants you can grow.
- According to their policy and procedures, you can still be drug tested and fired from your job for dropping "dirty" for weed.
Where will you be able to smoke weed in Missouri after next week?
Chip Sheppard, Chairman of Marijuana Legal Group Carnahan Evans, had this to say,
"This does not legalize public use; you can't drive around smoking marijuana and with anyone in the vehicle smoking marijuana."
Sheppard also stated that people would not be permitted to smoke marijuana in any public space, including parks, sidewalks, and facilities. People cannot possess marijuana products on any public or private school property, regardless of age.
Where will the tax money go?
There will be a six percent sales tax on recreational cannabis. At least two percent of that will go to the Veterans, Health, and Community Reinvestment Fund, and some will go to make sure the state can expunge records. The veteran's commission, a public defender fund, and a drug treatment and education fund will receive the remainder of the tax money in equally divided amounts.
Missouri expects to bring in over 1 billion dollars yearly with new recreational marijuana laws.
Change comes from involvement, and involvement is easier than you think.
Click below to read part 1 of my 8-part series: