Missouri Rep. Shamed Dogan, R-Ballwin, prefiled a measure to amend the state constitution to legalize recreational cannabis.
In addition to allowing adults 21 and older to use the drug, Dogan said, his proposal would be an important step toward criminal justice reform.
“It expunges the records of people who’ve been convicted of nonviolent marijuana offenses and has anyone who’s incarcerated for nonviolent marijuana offense be released from prison,” Dogan said.
Dogan said he is the first in the majority party to file a recreational cannabis bill. While the House has taken up proposals in past sessions, the Senate has been reluctant to do so. Dogan said he is confident his proposal will get the traction it needs to make it to the floors of both chambers for discussion.
“Ten percent of the total arrests in the state of Missouri in 2018 were for marijuana possession,” Dogan said. “Just by tackling that, that’s going to address a lot of those racial disparities.”
While cannabis use is still illegal at the federal level, the legislation states that no Missouri law enforcement personnel or state funds be used to enforce those laws, as seen in other states that have legalized marijuana.
What is different about this bill, though, is the lack of state regulation when it comes to who can grow and sell the drug. Dogan said that was intentional.
“I don’t think we need a huge bureaucracy to pick winners and losers in terms of who gets licenses,” Dogan said.
The state’s medical marijuana program stipulated that at least 192 licenses be awarded to facilities across the state to grow and sell the drug. While the constitutional amendment did not cap the number of facilities, the state did not award more than the minimum required. Dogan said this has created problems for