Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Missouri ballot measures on marijuana, advances voting on location

Jefferson City, Mo. ( Associated Press) — Campaigns to legalize recreational marijuana use and allow rank-choice voting in Missouri on Sunday both signed off on ballots they gathered to get the measure.

To get the resolution on the ballot, the campaign needs to collect enough voter signatures from six of the state’s eight congressional districts.

This year the campaign needs to collect about 170,000 voter signatures by the Sunday deadline.

The recreational pot campaign, Legal Missouri 2022, had already collected twice the required number of signatures by mid-April, and it turned in more than 385,000 signatures.

The Better Election campaign group said it submitted more than 300,000 signatures with its petition on Sunday.

Campaigns typically collect more than enough signatures from voters to balance invalid signatures that misidentify which congressional district they live in.

Here’s a rundown of ballot measures:

recreational marijuana

Adults 21 and older can buy and grow weed for personal consumption as early as this year if voters approve the amendment.

Supporters of the ballot proposal are highlighting a provision that would erase previous weed-related punishment for nonviolent offenders and those whose convictions did not include selling to minors or driving while high. The local NAACP chapter, the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, criminal defense attorneys and other civil rights advocacy groups supported automatic evictions, and this could broaden support for the initiative among Republican criminal justice advocates. Seven other states with legal recreational marijuana have also adopted automatic eviction policies.

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Under the Missouri measure, a 6% tax would be imposed on the sale of marijuana. Taxes are estimated to bring in more than $46 million during the first full year, the amendment is in effect and close to $70 million the following year. Revenue will be earmarked for veterans’ homes, drug treatment programs, and public defenders.

Cities and other municipalities may impose a local sales tax of up to 3% on recreational marijuana or impose a local ban on non-medical weed sales by public vote.

Missouri lawmakers similarly legalized recreational marijuana in law without establishing it as a right in the state’s constitution. But pot policies have failed to gain traction in the GOP-led Legislature for years, and are running out of time before lawmakers’ May 13 deadline to pass the bills.

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The legislative proposals include a lower 4.2% tax on recreational marijuana sales and would set aside money for the deputy sheriff, the state’s police training monitoring agency, small business loans and a job training program.

Election

Candidates from all parties will be listed on primary ballots beginning in August 2024, meaning voters can choose between Republicans and Democrats without requesting a party-specific ballot. The top four candidates with the most votes will advance to the general election, when voters can either choose only their favorite or rank candidates from first to last.

The measure would also require filling statewide vacancies by special elections. Current law allows the governor to fill open statewide seats. For example, Republican Governor Mike Parson appointed the current treasurer, attorney general and lieutenant governor due to a series of vacancies, although all three were later elected by voters.

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