Missouri prosecuting attorneys issue paper against adult-use cannabis legalization measure


Not everyone in Missouri is on board with adult-use cannabis. At least not how it is presented in Amendment 3 when voters decide on it in November.

Specifically, the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys has called it “nothing more than thirty pages of mischief”.  Those were their words in a position paper released in response to the proposed constitutional amendment in Missouri.

The Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys had multiple issues with Amendment 3 to legalize adult-use cannabis but one of them has to do with the constitution.

The association feels strongly that cannabis legalization is not something that should be enshrined in the state’s constitution. They even went so far as to call it “bad government”.

Their reasoning for this actually makes a lot of sense. “Think how often you have heard about a law that had a problem and had to be fixed or changed—it happens all the time,” the prosecutors said, according to the news outlet. “If any part of the law is invalid or does not do what it was supposed to do, our Legislature is powerless to fix it except to send the amendment back for an expensive statewide election.”

The Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys also took issue with some of the civil penalties that are part of Amendment 3. One quote from them says it “fails to protect our children from dealers in black market marijuana.”

It’s true that Amendment 3 technically only makes cannabis legal for adults who are 21 and older. However, the association says that the proposal says “fails to protect our children from dealers in black market marijuana.”

The association took up even more issues with Amendment 3 including restrictions on municipalities being able to block dispensaries in their jurisdictions across the state.

Legal Missouri is the group that has been spearheading Amendment 3. John Payne, the campaign manager, says that “both driving under the influence of marijuana and selling marijuana outside the regulatory system remain illegal.”  He also indicated that anyone selling cannabis to minors would still be subject to felony drug charges if Amendment 3 was passed.

Payne argues in favor of Amendment 3 partly because he believes it will free up law enforcement resources. He cited tens of thousands of arrests being made each year for offenses related to cannabis possessions. He believes law enforcement can be more productive by focusing on what he calls more serious crimes.

The Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys is not the first group to raise concerns about Amendment 3. Even the Missouri Democratic party is not endorsing the measure as it currently stands, albeit for different reasons. They said it “may negatively impact minorities, people of color, and low-income earning Missourians.”

So far Legal Missouri has jumped through all of the legal requirements to get the initiative on the ballot for voters to decide. They have submitted more than 385,000 signatures to the Secretary of State in Missouri when only 171,500 signatures are actually required.

Overview of Amendment 3

In a nutshell, it would legalize adult-use cannabis for those 21 and older. It would do so by amending the Missouri Constitution. If an individual had been convicted of non-violent cannabis-related offenses they could petition for release and may have their records expunged.

When it comes to licenses it would set up a lottery system to award growing licenses and require a registration card for personal cultivation of cannabis. There would also be a 6% sales tax on all cannabis sales to increase revenue.

One caveat is that the proposal would allow municipalities to actually opt out of adult-use retail sales through a public vote.

There are other points and provisions in Amendment 3 but these are some of the main ones. The plan is that Amendment 3 will appear on the ballot in Missouri for elections in November.



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