You are here
Home > News > Missouri Introduces Recreational Cannabis Legalization Measure

Missouri Introduces Recreational Cannabis Legalization Measure

The comprehensive bill was introduced Tuesday by a Missouri lawmaker to legalize recreational cannabis. Representative Ron Hicks (a Republican from St. Charles) introduced the Cannabis Freedom Act (HB 2704) in Missouri’s House of Representatives.

This bill would legalize adult-use cannabis and regulate the recreational use. It also could expunge previous cannabis-related convictions. Hicks made a statement acknowledging the help of Oklahoma colleagues and interested parties in the drafting of the legislation.

“The Cannabis Freedom Act is the product of input from many different stakeholders including members of law enforcement and those who have endured incarceration for conduct that society now deems acceptable,” Hicks said. “I am particularly grateful for input from Oklahoma State Representative Scott Fetgatter for his assistance in creating a free market program that is also strictly regulated.”

The Bill legalizes recreational cannabis possession and sales

Adults aged 21 years and over would be allowed to use and purchase recreational cannabis under the proposed bill. The bill would allow adults to have up to 12 cannabis plants in their own homes for personal use.

The Missouri Department of Agriculture is charged with the regulation of the recreational cannabis program. This department will draft rules and issue licenses to manufacturers, distributors and retailers of cannabis. Licenses can be granted without any limit.

The Cannabis Freedom Act requires the Department of Revenue of each state to establish a tax of at least 12 percent for recreational cannabis products. The retail tax would not apply to medical cannabis purchased by patients who are registered. Revenue raised by marijuana taxes would be used to administer the recreational cannabis program, with the remainder divided equally among the Missouri Veterans Commission and funding for teachers’ salaries and pensions for first responders.

This legislation prevents states financial regulators to deny or hinder legal cannabis business access to banks services. The legislation allows licensed cannabis companies to make state deductions to cover business expenses which aren’t allowed by federal law. Additionally, licensees who have been denied a license would be able to deduct the fees that they pay to apply.

Christina Thompson of Show-Me Cannabis, a group advocating for marijuana policy reform in Missouri, said that Hicks’ bill would create a cannabis industry for businesses of all sizes.

“The Cannabis Freedom Act provides a fair, open market that every Missourian can participate in,” Thompson told local media. “The cannabis community desperately needs this piece of legislation, and I’m hopeful that our lawmakers will understand just how vital it is that this passes.”

Take measures to expunge cannabis convictions

It also contains provisions that allow for the expulsion of non-violent convictions for marijuana-related activities. Current inmates would be eligible to resentence, while those who have been convicted previously would be allowed to petition the court for their records to be expunged. It also allows those who are on parole or probation to smoke cannabis. The odor of marijuana would not be considered probable cause to have a police officer search the area without a warrant.

Daniel Jones was a Rolla City former councilman and a U.S. Navy veteran. He praised the legislative’s reformative justice provisions.

“I am heartened to see that the Cannabis Freedom Act contains full release and expungement protocols for marijuana-only offenders,” said Jones. “The passage of this proposal will represent a historic victory for civil rights and individual liberty in America.”

Chris Hammann (New Haven Police Chief) and Rocky Kingree (ex-Carter County Prosecutor) also supported cannabis legalization in Missouri.

“Law enforcement does not need to be tasked with the thankless job of marijuana prohibition anymore and the Cannabis Freedom Act allows for the reparative justice actions that will continue the work of repairing the relationship and trust between the government and its citizens,” the law enforcement officials said in a joint statement.

Ballot Initiatives are also under way

Missouri has another avenue to reform marijuana policies with the Cannabis Freedom Act. Fair Access Missouri, a group that advocates for legalization of recreational marijuana production and sale, launched an initiative campaign last year to change Missouri’s constitution. Legal Missouri 2022 also supported a separate initiative to legalize recreational cannabis. 

“The automatic expungement of non-violent marijuana offenses would be among the most significant—and overdue—criminal justice reforms in our state’s history,” said Fawzy Simon, MACDL president. “It’s a matter of basic fairness. The legalization of adult marijuana use in Missouri must alleviate law-abiding Missourians from the negative consequences of an activity no longer being considered criminal. In practical terms, this will provide a fresh start to tens of thousands of state residents.”