JEFFERSON CITY — Campaigns to legalize recreational marijuana use and allow ranked-choice voting in Missouri both turned in voter signatures by Sunday’s deadline, putting the measures one step closer to appearing on statewide ballots in November.
In order to get a proposal on the ballot, campaigns needed to collect enough voter signatures from six of the state’s eight congressional districts, or about 170,000 signatures.
The recreational pot campaign, Legal Missouri 2022, had already collected nearly twice the required number of signatures by mid-April, and it turned in more than 385,000 signatures on Sunday, organizers said.
The Better Elections campaign group said it submitted more than 300,000 signatures with its petition Sunday.
Campaigns typically collect more than enough signatures to balance out invalid signatures from voters who misidentify which congressional district they live in.
Here’s a rundown of the ballot measures:
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Adults aged 21 and older could buy and grow weed for personal consumption as early as this year if voters approve the amendment.
Backers of the ballot proposal are highlighting a provision that would erase past weed-related convictions for nonviolent offenders and those whose conviction didn’t include selling to minors or driving while high. Local NAACP chapters, the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, criminal defense lawyers and other civil rights advocacy groups endorsed automatic expungement, and it could broaden support for the initiative among Republican criminal justice advocates. Seven other states with legal recreational marijuana have also adopted automatic expungement policies.
Marijuana sales would be taxed at 6% under the Missouri measure. The tax is estimated to bring in more than $46 million during the first full year the amendment is in effect and close to $70 million the following year. Revenues would be earmarked for veterans’ homes, drug treatment programs and public defenders.
Cities and other municipalities could enact local sales taxes on recreational marijuana up to 3% or enact local bans on non-medical weed sales by a public vote.
Missouri lawmakers pitched similar legislation that would legalize recreational marijuana in law, without enshrining it as a right in the state Constitution. But pot policies have failed to gain traction in the GOP-led Legislature for years, and time is running out before lawmakers’ May 13 deadline to pass bills.
Legislative proposals include a lower 4.2% tax on recreational marijuana sales and would set the money aside for deputy sheriffs, the state’s police training oversight agency, small business loans and a work training program.
Missouri voters in 2018 approved the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Candidates from all parties would be listed on primary ballots beginning in August 2024, meaning both voters could pick from both Republicans and Democrats without requesting a party-specific ballot. The top four candidates with the most votes would move on to the general election, when voters could either pick only their favorite or rank the candidates from first to last.
The measure also would require statewide vacancies to be filled by special elections. Current law allows the governor to fill open statewide seats. Republican Gov. Mike Parson, for example, appointed the current treasurer, attorney general and lieutenant governor due to a series of vacancies, although all three were later elected by voters.