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Recreational Weed Now Legal in Missouri

Missouri has legalized cannabis for adult use, though legal sales of recreational marijuana remain months away. Missouri’s voters approved Amendment 3 during the November midterm elections. This amendment joins 20 states which have legalized recreational marijuana.

Amendment 3, which received 53% of the vote in last month’s election, amends the Missouri Constitution to legalize recreational marijuana for adults and strengthens the state’s existing medical marijuana program. Officially, Thursday’s successful ballot measure became effective. Under state law, adults can possess up to three ounces cannabis.

The state legislature passed legislation in 2014 to make possession of small amounts of cannabis illegal. In 2018, Missouri’s voters approved an amended ballot measure that would legalize marijuana. 

Missouri Rec Sales Coming Next Year

Under Amendment 3, the state’s existing medical marijuana dispensaries will be the first businesses licensed to make recreational cannabis sales, which are expected to begin early next year. John Payne, campaign manager for Legal Missouri 2022, the group behind Amendment 3, said that sales of cannabis are only permitted “within the regulated system,” but he noted that simple possession of marijuana is legal as of Thursday.

“The decriminalization aspects do not hinge on licensed sales existing,” Payne said.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is currently in the process of drafting regulations to govern the adult-use cannabis industry and will begin accepting applications for comprehensive retailers – those selling both medical marijuana and adult-use cannabis – on Saturday. The DHSS will issue licenses for comprehensive retailers to medical marijuana dispensaries that are currently operating by February 6th. This is the earliest Missouri can regulate adult-use cannabis sales. 

Lisa Cox from DHSS reminded Missourians, in a statement: Legal sales of recreational cannabis will not be available immediately.

“It’s just our commitment that we regulate this program as best we can to keep people safe and healthy. That’s our goal,” Cox said in a statement, adding that consumers should familiarize themselves with Amendment 3 and its potential impact on individuals and communities.

Amendment 3 contains provisions to expunge some past cannabis-related convictions. The measure will allow those who have been convicted of nonviolent cannabis-related offenses to have their records reviewed and qualified convictions exonerated by the courts by June 8, 2023.

The Amendment 3 allows cannabis to be legalized for adults aged 21 or older. However, on Wednesday the University of Missouri System stated that marijuana will still be illegal on its four campuses.

“Possession and use of marijuana remains subject to many limitations under both constitutional amendment and federal law,” the university system wrote in a statement. “Following a review of the federal Drug-Free Schools and Community Act and Drug-Free Workplace Act, the University of Missouri System will continue to prohibit the possession, use and distribution of marijuana on any university property, university-leased property and as part of university-sponsored or university-supervised activities.”

Amendment to Medical Cannabis Program

Amendment 3 also includes provisions to enhance Missouri’s existing medical marijuana program. Patients can now legally buy six-ounces of cannabis at licensed dispensaries each month, up from the current four-ounce limit. Also, the validity of medical marijuana patient identification cards is now extended for three years instead of being renewed each year.

“Patient applications processed as of this date (Dec. 8) and forward will be valid for three years,” Cox said. “Current ID holders will retain their existing expiration dates, which will not change due to Amendment 3 passing.”

Dan Viets was a co-author of Amendment 3 but is also the coordinator for the Missouri chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. He made the comment in a statement issued by the advocacy group.

“December 8th is a historic date for Missourians,” said Viets. “Most of the 20,000 annual marijuana arrests in our state will end on that date. Instead, adults will be able to legally possess up to three ounces of cannabis, and soon will also have the option to grow up to 18 plants or purchase cannabis products tested for purity and potency from licensed retailers.”