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Petitions for legalization of marijuana in Missouri are approved for circulation

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JEFFERSON CITY • Missourians would vote on a constitutional amendment to legalize and regulate marijuana if supporters of an initiative petition approved for circulation gather enough signatures.

Secretary of State Jason Kander announced on Wednesday the approval of 13 initiative petitions relating to the use, sale and distribution of marijuana. The proposals were filed by Dan Viets, a Columbia-based criminal attorney and chairman of Show-Me Cannabis, which advocates for marijuana legalization and regulation.

“Good people are being treated like criminals,” Viets said. “It’s the stupidest possible arrangement. We squander millions to enforce an unenforceable law and don’t see a penny from the people who are making money selling marijuana.”

Viets said the next step is for Show-Me Cannabis to conduct polling to determine with which initiative petition to move forward. He said previous polling by the organization has shown a majority of Missourians in favor of legalization.

“We’re proposing to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol,” Viets said. “If the polling is not promising, we might not even put it on the ballot.”

The differences between the petitions, Viets said, involve the number of plants someone would be allowed to grow for personal use and whether expunging marijuana-related crimes from a person’s record is included.

To get on the ballot for the November election, a petition must gather at least 157,788 signatures by the deadline of May 4. The minimum number of signatures is based on 8 percent of the number who voted in the last gubernatorial election from six of Missouri’s eight congressional districts.

Marie French is a reporter in the Jefferson City bureau. You can follow her on Twitter @mre545.

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