A Missouri lawmaker last week introduced a comprehensive bill to legalize cannabis in the state. The measure, titled Cannabis Freedom Act (HB 2704), was introduced in the Missouri House of Representatives by Rep. Ron Hicks, a Republican from St. Charles.
If passed, the bill will legalize cannabis for adult use, regulate the recreational cannabis trade and erase convictions for previous cannabis-related offences.
“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 Hicks. “I am especially grateful to Oklahoma State Representative Scott Fetgatter for his assistance in creating a free and strictly regulated market program. »
The details of the bill
Under the bill, adults 21 and older would be allowed to buy and use 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 program rules and issue licenses to cannabis producers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers, without capping the number of licenses that can be issued to qualified cannabis businesses.
The Cannabis Freedom Act directs the state Department of Finance to set a tax of up to 12% on recreational cannabis products. Purchases of medical cannabis by registered patients would not be subject to the retail tax. Revenues generated from cannabis taxes would be used to administer the program, with the remainder split equally between the Missouri Veterans Commission and financing teachers’ salaries.
The legislation prohibits state financial regulators from denying or hindering legal cannabis businesses from accessing banking services.
Cancellation of old cannabis-related convictions
The legislation also includes provisions for expunging convictions for non-violent cannabis-related activities legalized by the bill. Those currently incarcerated would be eligible for re-sentencing, and those who have already been convicted could ask the court to have their case quashed.
The bill also allows people on probation or parole 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.
Citizens’ initiatives are also underway
the Cannabis Freedom Act provides Missouri with 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 cannabis for recreational purposes.
In addition, a separate initiative from the group Legal Missouri 2022supported by the Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (MACDL), would also legalize recreational cannabis in the state.