Recreational marijuana supporters, opposition plea their cases before election

Published: Oct. 19, 2022 at 7:37 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) - You’ve most likely seen the stores popping up in corners across our region. Right now, many of those cannabis stores are medical only. However, depending on what happens in the November election, anyone over the age of 21 could legally buy pot in Missouri.

“I think this would be one of the most meaningful criminal justice reforms passed by the ballot initiative in the state of Missouri’s history,” John Payne said.

Payne, the campaign director of Legal Missouri 2022, said he wants to see Amendment 3 pass, granting recreational weed to all those of age in the Show Me State. And he said it’s not just for the convenience of being able to buy marijuana.

“It would also expunge records for people who have non-minor marijuana offenses, with the exception of driving under the influence or sales to minors. It would also petition for people to be released from incarceration, from jail, probation, what have you,” Payne explained.

Payne added the tax revenue generated from marijuana sales would go to veterans, drug and alcohol abuse programs, and public schools. It would also bear the cost burden of expunging those non-violent criminals, which opposition groups dislike. They argue that part of Amendment 3 doesn’t help those currently incarcerated.

“Anyone who’s paid their penalty, served their time, paid their penance for the charge, and is beyond that, their record would be expunged automatically at no charge. The people who are in prison, who don’t have access to income, can’t really afford the fees that an attorney would require or court costs. They have to go through a separate process to have their record expunged,” Scott Dieckhaus said.

Dieckhaus is the executive director of Save Our State PAC, the Missouri PAC that’s vocally opposed Amendment 3. However, Dieckhaus said a lot of its members are on board with legalizing marijuana, they just believe Amendment 3 isn’t the way to do it.

“We generally just do not believe something this important, and [something that] would change the state as drastically as this would, should be enshrined in the constitution,” Dieckhaus explained. “Putting significant policy, especially 39 pages of policy, in this case, bad policy, into the constitution, would be extremely dangerous for Missourians,” he said.

In 2019 Illinois approved recreational marijuana. Last year, the state saw $1.5 billion in sales. Now, some in Missouri are looking to follow, possibly changing the law on November 8.