Missouri is one of the 35 U.S. states that continue to ban recreational cannabis. Still, medical cannabis became legal in 2018, and the state began implementing regulations halfway through 2019. The “Show-Me State” is looking forward to cannabis legalisation and regulation for adult use by introducing several bills into the Missouri House of Representatives.
Submitted by state representative Ron Hicks, the “Cannabis Freedom Act” was brought forward. House Bill No. 2704 is a general law that legalises adult-use marijuana, expunges all non-violent marijuana-related offenders, and creates a guideline allowing people on parole or probation to legally use marijuana. Apart from this, the bill establishes a tax return for people who were denied a marijuana licence in Missouri’s medical marijuana program, a tax exemption for marijuana businesses whose owners are unable to deduce expenses from federal taxes, and protections for banks that provide services to legal cannabis businesses. The bill also allows hospitality businesses, including bars, restaurants, and lodging establishments, to provide legal cannabis consumption spaces on their premises.
On February 15th, according to an Ozark Radio News report, the bill was presented by a Missouri lawmaker who stated: “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. I am particularly grateful for input from Oklahoma State Representative Scott Fetgatter (R-Okmulgee) for his assistance in creating a free-market program that is also strictly regulated.”
Other Proposals on the Table
A handful of bills and proposals concerning cannabis legalisation have been presented since cannabis gained ground in other states. Legal Missouri, Fair Access Missouri, and Cannabis Patient Network are the most recently established proposals that hope to see their initiative appear on ballots.
Ron Hicks’ proposal represents a huge win for people with past convictions and a comprehensive legislative reform to repeal marijuana-related criminal offences. By 2019, around 1.5 million Missouri residents had criminal records. However, due to the high cost of lawyers and administrative procedures, only 125 Missourians were able to clean their records this year in this state.