Is Missouri going to pot?
Missourians could get to vote on whether to legalize marijuana if two recently filed initiatives get enough signatures to land on the November 2012 ballot.
On Monday the Missouri Secretary of State's Office approved the wording for the petitions
that would legalize the purchase and possession of cannabis for anyone over 21, allow for the use of medical marijuana for anyone regardless of age and allow the legal sale of the drug. The initiative would also free anyone currently serving a prison sentence for a crime solely having to do with marijuana and expunge marijuana offenses from anyone's criminal record.
Marijuana would be taxed at $100 per pound under the initiatives, which could provide millions of dollars for the cash-strapped state. The two initiatives are identical in language, with one changing the Missouri Constitution and the other changing state laws regarding the drug.
Columbia attorney Dan Viets
, a lawyer for NORML, filed the paperwork for the initiatives. Viets made news last year serving as legal counsel for St. Louis concert promoter Jimmy Tebeau
, who the feds accuse of allowing drugs sales on his rural Missouri farm that doubled as a music venue.
But getting an initiative approved for signature gathering and actually delivering the required John Hancocks is two different things. Viets and his supporters have their work cut out for them, with just six months to get signatures from registered voters equal to eight percent of the total votes cast in the 2008 governor's election and from six of the state's nine congressional districts.
And even if the initiative lands on the ballot and voters approve the measure, the federal government still considers marijuana a controlled substance. It's doubtful Uncle Sam would allow Missouri to become the first state in the nation to openly allow the sale and use of marijuana for non-medical reasons.
Still, we applaud Viets' gumption and look forward to signing the dotted line should his signature-gatherers knock on our door.