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Legal marijuana in Missouri: 10 questions and answers about Amendment 3

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JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri voters will be asked Nov. 8 whether they want to legalize the adult use of recreational marijuana. The citizen-led ballot question, known as Amendment 3, would enshrine a system of weed-selling in the state’s constitution following years of inaction by the Legislature.

The proposed amendment — a 39-page document of definitions, rules and regulations — is condensed to about 150 words on the ballot.

Not included in the ballot language, for example, is Amendment 3’s prohibition on selling “edible marijuana-infused products in shapes or packages that are attractive to children” or the requirement that the state hire a “chief equity officer” to help disadvantaged Missourians get into the business.

Nor does the ballot language — unlike the actual amendment — spell out in detail the multi-step process for obtaining state licenses to sell weed.

Here are some of the key questions and answers surrounding the initiative:

Who is funding the pro-Amendment 3 campaign?

The political action committee financing the pro-Amendment 3 campaign is called Legal Missouri 2022. Campaign finance filings with the Missouri Ethics Commission show it is being bankrolled by companies in Missouri’s medical marijuana industry, primarily because they will get the first shot at licenses to sell recreational cannabis.

Reports show Legal Missouri 2022 has raised and spent more than $6 million to first get Amendment 3 on the ballot and then campaign in favor of it via ads and other voter outreach efforts.

There is a PAC opposing the amendment called Save Our State. Through Sept. 30, the organization has not raised or spent enough to file a more detailed report. Other groups and individuals also have weighed in, including chapters of the NAACP, labor unions, prosecutors and Roman Catholic bishops, but have not mounted campaigns for or against the issue.

How much marijuana would you be able to buy?

Amendment 3 would go into effect in early December, triggering a process that could see the state issue the first comprehensive marijuana dispensary facility licenses to current dispensaries by Feb. 6.

Once those stores are licensed, anybody 21 or older may purchase up to 3 ounces of dried, unprocessed marijuana per day. The state uses a separate weighing system to determine the legal amount of gummies and other products that are not sold in flower form.

Individuals potentially could be allowed to have 3 ounces in their direct possession, 3 ounces at home and 3 ounces at another location, said John Payne, campaign director for Legal Missouri 2022.

Could you resell marijuana?

It would not be legal to sell your marijuana. One cannot sell it outside the regulated system. That said, a caregiver for a patient could be paid for their labor and expenses in cultivating and/or procuring marijuana for the patient from a dispensary.

Individuals also would be prohibited from buying marijuana in Missouri and driving into another state, even if it is legal in the other state, because that would violate federal law, and crossing state lines would invoke their jurisdiction.

How much marijuana would you be able to grow?

Individuals wanting to grow their own pot must apply for registration cards from the state. Once registered, individuals could possess, transport, plant, cultivate, harvest, dry, process or manufacture up to six marijuana flowering plants, six nonflowering plants and six clones (plants under 14 inches tall), according to the amendment.

Plants and any marijuana products exceeding the 3-ounce limit must be kept in one’s private residence in a nonvisible, locked space.

A person who grows their own is allowed to gift marijuana up to 3 ounces.

Could you consume marijuana in public?

Any person who smokes marijuana or consumes other cannabis produces in a public place, other than a licensed area, could be subject to a civil penalty of up to $100.

If you’re pulled over by police, can you be considered driving impaired?

Driving while impaired, whether by alcohol or marijuana or other substance, will still be illegal. When someone is pulled over because they are suspected of driving under the influence of drugs, the police officer can perform a series of tests to determine if the driver is impaired. The officer also can ask a drug recognition expert to screen the driver to get an expert opinion.

Driving while under the influence in Missouri is considered a Class B misdemeanor, if it’s the first offense. That first offense can result in up to six months in jail or a $500 fine.

Would dispensaries face restrictions on advertising?

Legal Missouri 2022 said dispensaries will be able to offer sales, discounts and other promotions.

Like medical marijuana dispensaries, which have advertised on billboards and other means, there are no more prohibitions on advertising recreational marijuana than what are the rules for advertising alcohol.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, which will oversee the program, may issue requirements that packaging and labels shall not be made attractive to children, and that products should be sold in resealable, child-resistant packaging.

Would cities and counties have any control over marijuana sales?

The amendment allows local governments to enact ordinances governing the operations of marijuana facilities, such as when they can be open and where they can be located.

Local governments can ban cannabis stores altogether through a vote of the public. The measure must receive at least 60% approval to go into effect. The amendment says that local ballot measures on such prohibitions may take place only once every four years.

In addition, no new marijuana facilities shall be located within 1,000 feet of an elementary school, day care center or church.

How would expungements work?

The amendment includes automatic expungement for most individuals who have nonviolent marijuana-related offenses on their record. People who are still incarcerated would have to petition the courts to be released and have their records expunged.

“An expungement order shall be legally effective immediately and the person whose record is expunged shall be treated in all respects as if he or she had never been arrested, convicted or sentences for the offense,” the amendment states.

Would there be financial impacts for governments?

Money generated by the personal property retail sales tax would be deposited into the “Veterans, Health, and Community Reinvestment Fund.”

A 6% tax on the retail price of marijuana will go toward court costs and legal fees related to expungements for people convicted of certain nonviolent marijuana offenses. The remaining revenue will go toward substance misuse treatment programs, veterans’ health care and the state’s public defender system.

Local governments can tack on an additional 3% tax and state sales taxes also will be charged, driving up the entire tax package to more than 13%.

The petition says there will be $3.1 million of initial costs for the state and it estimates initial tax and fee revenue of at least $7.9 million. Local governments will incur at least $35,000 in annual costs and annual revenue will exceed $13.8 million, according to the petition.

Missourians will vote Nov. 8 on the full legalization of marijuana. Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft's office on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, announced that the campaign received enough signatures to go in front of Missouri voters.

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