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Missouri Voters Approve Amendment 3, Legalizing Recreational Marijuana

Constitutional amendment allows recreational marijuana in Missouri and will clear nonviolent marijuana-related charges from criminal records.

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Above image credit: From left: Tanisha Patterson, Ryan Quinones and Chris LeGrand celebrate the passage of Amendment 3 on Tuesday during a watch party at the Crown Room in downtown St. Louis. (Jon Gitchoff | Special To St. Louis Public Radio)

Missouri residents will soon be able to legally use marijuana recreationally in the state.

Voters approved Amendment 3, known as Legal Missouri 2022. The amendment earned 53% in support. The decision on Amendment 3 comes four years after Missouri legalized the use of medical marijuana with 65% of the vote.

John Payne, campaign manager for Legal Missouri 2022, spoke on Tuesday during a celebratory watch party in Ballpark Village in St. Louis.

“So many times during this campaign. The whole thing hung in the balance. And we didn’t know if we’re gonna make it. But it was because of the people in this room and those celebrating across the state that we made it through,” Payne said.

Legal Missouri 2022 spent millions on the campaign to pass the amendment and had the support of Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas and the St. Louis NAACP.

But it also had vocal opposition, including Gov. Mike Parson, the Missouri NAACP and St. Louis Mayor Tishuara Jones.

Tanisha Patterson, who attended the watch party, said she believes the passage of recreational marijuana is something the state has needed for a long time.
“This means increased revenue, it means access to all patients, it means funding programs that need the funding. It means new growth, it means opportunity, it means innovation into an industry that’s endless,” Patterson said.

Under the amendment, nonmedical users will be able to possess up to 3 ounces of marijuana, while medical patients could possess up to 6 ounces.

In addition to imposing possession limits, the measure allows fines to still be issued for smoking in public.

Amendment 3 also makes changes to Missouri’s cannabis business industry. John Payne, campaign manager for Legal Missouri 2022, said a minimum of 144 new licenses will be issued through the Department of Health and Senior Services.

A 6% tax rate will apply to non-medical sales in the state. Missouri is expected to earn millions from legalizing recreational use. At least 2% of the revenue will go into the Veterans, Health and Community Reinvestment Fund. Beneficiaries of this fund include the Missouri Veterans Commission and the Missouri public defender system.

It also creates a microbusiness program in which dispensaries or wholesale facilities can interact with other microbusinesses. Critics of the program say it inadequately helps the populations that were most negatively affected by the war on drugs.

The amendment also includes expungement procedures for certain marijuana offenses. Someone currently on probation or parole for certain marijuana law violations would see their sentence automatically vacated and later expunged from their record.

Additionally, anyone incarcerated for certain marijuana offenses would be able to petition the court to vacate the sentence, as well as be immediately released from incarceration and see their records expunged.

Supporters celebrate the passage of Amendment 3 on Tuesday during a watch party at the Crown Room in downtown St. Louis.
Supporters celebrate the passage of Amendment 3 on Tuesday during a watch party at the Crown Room in downtown St. Louis. (Jon Gitchoff | Special To St. Louis Public Radio)

Bonnie Boime, who came to the watch party but does not use marijuana, supported the amendment due to the language pertaining to criminal justice reform.

“It means that we’ll be incarcerating fewer people, and that law enforcement can focus on real crime. And it will mean opportunities for people carrying convictions because they’ll have the opportunity to expunge those convictions.”

The state judiciary has already included an additional funding request of around $4.5 million to go toward these new requirementsfor fiscal 2024.

Before the election, Payne said the expungement process is a reason voters should approve the amendment.

“That’s going to affect hundreds of thousands of Missourians with nonviolent marijuana offenses, allowing them to have a fresh start,” Payne said.

However, Rep. Ashley Bland Manlove, D-Kansas City, who lobbied against Amendment 3, says the amendment picks and chooses whose charges are expunged and for those currently serving time, the appeal process won’t be universal.

“If you’re serving right now, you have to still appeal to the court. And it’s based off of judicial discretion, which we know does not work out for poor and melanated peoples,” Bland Manlove said.

The passage of Amendment 3 comes after Missouri lawmakers failed to pass legislation that would have legalized the recreational use of marijuana.

Payne said the legislature should have passed a law legalizing cannabis for adult use.

“I think that the legislature has had their chance to deal with this. And it’s time that we allow the people to have a say,” Payne said.

Bland Manlove, who co-sponsored the Cannabis Freedom Act this past legislative session, said she understood the initiative petition was a consequence of the legislature not passing a bill.

“But that still doesn’t mean it’s right. And that still doesn’t mean that I support it,” Bland Manlove said.

Because the language of Amendment 3 will be added to the state’s constitution, it will be harder to make any future modifications to the wording as opposed to a new state law.

Other Amendments on the Ballot 

Amendment 1

With 92% of the vote in, Missourians were rejecting a proposal to change how the state can invest its money.

Fifty-four percent of Missourians were rejecting Amendment 1, a proposal to change how the state can invest its money.

Amendment 1 centered around the state’s Treasury Department, asking whether the treasurer’s office should be able to invest in municipal bonds. It also would have allowedthe legislature to expand what the treasurer’s office could invest in.

Currently, there are only seven investment types that are permissible for the office. Those include time deposits, U.S. Treasury and federal agency securities and repurchase agreements.

The amendment would have allowedthe treasurer’s office to invest in municipal bonds but also gives power to the legislature to expand where it can make statutory changes for allowable investments — without having those decisions go to voters.

Any change would have had to be passed by the legislature and approved by the governor and the Treasurer’s Office Investment Committee, and then the treasurer.

The legislature can only add investment opportunities. Lawmakers would not be able to take away constitutionally authorized investment options.

The legislature voted 156-1 to put the measure on the ballot in 2021.

Kansas City police in riot gear
Kansas City police officers stand ready with riot gear during June 2020 protests at the County Club Plaza. (Cody Boston | Flatland)

Amendment 4

Kansas City will have to increase the funding for its police department after voters passed Amendment 4.

The amendment received 63% support. It authorizes a law passed by the state legislature this past session raising the minimum amount Kansas City must allocate to its police department through December 2026.

The lawincreases spending for the police from 20% of general revenue to 25%. Though it was a statewide vote, the result only affectsKansas City.

Proponents of the measure say it better supports the city’s police department, while opponents argue it removes Kansas City’s authority and control of its own funding decisions.

Amendment 5

Missouri will create a new Department of the National Guard after voters passed Amendment 5 with 60% approval.

Amendment 5 separates the Missouri National Guard into its own department. Currently, it’s under the state’s Department of Public Safety. According to the ballot language, the department “shall be required to protect the constitutional rights and civil liberties of Missourians.”

Constitutional Convention 

Missourians again voted against holding a convention to make changes to the state’s constitution. The measure, required to appear on the ballot every 20 years, failed with 68% against it.

If passed, it would have required Gov. Mike Parson to call an election of delegates. Any changes would then be up for a vote for consideration by Missouri residents. In 2002, the last time the question appeared on the ballot, 65% of Missouri residents voted against it.

Sarah Kellogg is the Missouri Statehouse reporter for St. Louis Public Radio. This story appeared on KCUR 89.3, a member of the KC Media Collective.

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