In the Missouri House of Representatives, a Republican from St. Charles. has put forward a new cannabis legalization bill. The representative behind it, Ron Hicks, says the bill is the collective effort of many stakeholders, including law enforcement officers. In addition to legalization, the bill will also include measures to expunge prior cannabis-related criminal convictions.
A Missouri lawmaker introduced a comprehensive bill last week to legalize cannabis in the state. The measure, titled the Cannabis Freedom Act (HB 2704), was introduced in the Missouri House of Representatives by Representative Ron Hicks, a Republican from St. Charles.
If passed, the bill would legalize cannabis for adult use in Missouri, regulate the recreational cannabis trade, and expunge convictions for prior cannabis-related offenses.
“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,” said the Missouri representative. “I am especially grateful to Oklahoma State Representative Scott Fetgatter for his help in creating a strictly regulated free-market program.”
Details of the Missouri Cannabis Bill
Under the bill, Missouri adults 21 and older would be allowed to purchase and consume cannabis. Adults would also be allowed to grow up to 12 cannabis plants at home for personal use.
The bill directs the Missouri Department of Agriculture to regulate the recreational cannabis program. The department would write the rules for the program and issue licenses to cannabis producers, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers, with no cap on the number of licenses that can be issued to qualified cannabis businesses.
The Missouri Cannabis Freedom Act directs the state Department of Finance to set a maximum 12% tax on recreational cannabis products. Medical cannabis purchases by registered patients would not be subject to the retail tax. Revenue generated from the cannabis tax would be used to administer the program, with the remainder split evenly between the Missouri Veterans Commission and funding for teacher salaries.
The legislation prohibits state financial regulators from denying or impeding access to banking services for legal cannabis businesses.
Expungement of past Cannabis Convictions in Missouri
The legislation also includes provisions for expunging convictions for non-violent cannabis-related activity legalized by the bill. Currently incarcerated individuals would be eligible for resentencing, and those with prior convictions would be able to petition the court to have their records expunged.
The bill also allows people on probation or parole in Missouri to use cannabis. In addition, the smell of cannabis would no longer be considered probable cause for a law enforcement officer to conduct a warrantless search.
Citizen Initiatives Are Also Underway
The Cannabis Freedom Act offers Missouri another opportunity for cannabis law reform. Last year, the group Fair Access Missouri launched an initiative campaign to amend the state constitution to legalize the possession, production and sale of recreational cannabis.
In addition, a separate initiative by the group Legal Missouri 2022, supported by the Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (MACDL), would also legalize recreational cannabis in the state.
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