SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) — It will now be up to voters in November to decide whether recreational marijuana will be legalized in Missouri. But the issue also has implications for people with marijuana-related criminal records.
Legal Missouri 2022, the campaign supporting the ballot measure, collected more than 214,000 verified signatures to vote on the legalization of recreational marijuana. It was about 30,000 signatures more than the requirement.
“There were a number of public polls released over the summer, and they all showed 60% or more support for legalizing marijuana in Missouri,” campaign manager John Payne said. for Legal Missouri 2022. I’ve been passionate about it for over 20 years, and seeing it finally come to fruition is very exciting. I think voters will vote “Yes” to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana in Missouri.
And that’s what the Ballot Proposal does, legalize, tax and regulate with an amendment to the Missouri Constitution that:
–Making marijuana legal for adults over 21 to buy, possess, consume, deliver, manufacture and sell for personal use
–Require a registration card to grow yours (up to six flowering plants)
–Imposing a 6% tax on sales to benefit various programs such as the Department of Health and Senior Services, which will regulate the industry
— Organize a lottery to award licenses to companies
— Allow most people who have committed non-violent marijuana-related offenses to be released from prison, probation or parole and have their criminal records expunged
Douglas Co. Sheriff Chris Degase points out that with so many marijuana offenders also implicated in other crimes, erasing part of their record will affect their sentence length in those non-marijuana cases.
“We are now seeing people who have committed crimes getting a plea deal that makes it a misdemeanor,” Sherif Degase explained. “So by the time they have committed their third crime, they only have one or two on their record, which affects the sentence they get for that third crime. We are already fighting the system and the Department of Corrections over how long people are in jail. You get a five-year sentence, you do maybe six months, so prior persistence becomes a big issue.
“Our response would be that the marijuana offense shouldn’t have been an offense in the first place,” Payne countered. “People shouldn’t get harsher penalties for something like this if we say it should be a legal, regulated substance.”
The sheriff also pointed to crimes that have increased since medical marijuana became legal.
“Some of the things that I was concerned about when this happened have come true,” Sheriff Degase said. “We’ve had many instances of people using their own medical marijuana card to buy it and then sell it. And our drunk driving offenses have increased by 100%. We find that many people drive under the influence of marijuana and find that they drive as badly, or even worse, than those who are under the influence of alcohol.
“There is no change in how we deal with driving under the influence,” Payne replied. “It will remain illegal. People can still be arrested and should be arrested for this if they endanger other people.
Sheriff Degase is a member of the statewide Missouri Sheriffs Association and said that while that organization has yet to release an official position, it has already made up its mind.
“We have a meeting next week, and I’m sure that will be one of the main topics,” he said. “But I am totally against the legalization of marijuana. It is a psychotropic drug. I think it will hurt our economy and our workforce. If you look at Colorado and the states that have already done it, they sell for the money. We are going to have a lot more drunk driving and car insurance due to the increase in accidents. We’ll see a lot more unemployment because I don’t see how an employer can hire someone who’s going to come in and work top everyday, especially with the paid work situation. The first thing you do when there’s an accident is a drug test. When do we stop? Are we going to start legalizing meth next? »
“I don’t think the public in Missouri is going to vote to legalize meth,” Payne replied. “If voters are going to do that, we’re in a very different place than we are today. But I think voters want to see this reform pass. I think it’s a very different and relatively harmless substance.
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