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Marijuana legalization in Missouri takes effect Thursday

Booming Missouri cannabis industry looks to soar higher with amendment passage

Lead cultivator Alex Vahsholtz, left, and Ryan Crowe, production manager of cultivation, prune cannabis plants in the flower room at Proper Cannabis in Rock Hill on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022. 

JEFFERSON CITY — Marijuana legalization in Missouri takes effect Thursday, capping a 50-year effort to end prohibition and allowing individuals to legally possess 3 ounces or less of marijuana flower.

Consumers — defined as individuals 21 and older — may legally possess marijuana starting Thursday, but legal sales of marijuana at state-licensed dispensaries won’t start immediately, according to the Department of Health and Senior Services.

Medical marijuana dispensaries will be able to apply to “convert” their licenses to comprehensive ones starting Thursday. Lisa Cox, spokeswoman for DHSS, has said the state expects to begin the process of converting those licenses when regulations are filed. 

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The state will be forced to take action on conversion requests submitted Thursday by Feb. 6. Cox has said once the requests are approved, the state anticipates that dispensaries will be able to open their doors to everyone 21 and older.

John Payne, campaign manager for Legal Missouri 2022, said marijuana sales are only allowed “within the regulated system,” but he said simple possession will be legal starting Thursday.

“The decriminalization aspects do not hinge on licensed sales existing,” he said.

The state’s more than 200,000 medical marijuana patients will be able to buy more marijuana starting Thursday. 

The constitutional amendment increases patients’ monthly allowance from 4 ounces to 6 ounces, Cox said. And, the constitutional amendment allows patients to renew their cards every three years, rather than every year.

“Patient applications processed as of this date (Dec. 8) and forward will be valid for three years,” Cox said. “Current ID holders will retain their existing expiration dates, which will not change due to Amendment 3 passing.”

Marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, despite 21 states choosing to legalize its recreational use.

Cannabis will still be forbidden on all four University of Missouri System campuses, the system announced Wednesday in a news release.

“Possession and use of marijuana remains subject to many limitations under both constitutional amendment and federal law,” the release said.

“Following a review of the federal Drug-Free Schools and Community Act and Drug-Free Workplace Act, the University of Missouri System will continue to prohibit the possession, use and distribution of marijuana on any university property, university-leased property and as part of university-sponsored or university-supervised activities,” the release said.

The Missouri Affiliate of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, in a news release Wednesday, celebrated legalization, noting Missouri had the oldest marijuana prohibition in the country.

State archives show the Missouri General Assembly passed a law in 1887 to prohibit “any house, room or place” used for “the purpose of smoking opium, hasheesh or any other deadly drugs.” Hashish is concentrated cannabis.

The new law legalizing recreational use “will stop most of the more than 20,000 arrests that happen each year in the state of Missouri for marijuana, the vast majority of them for simple possession,” the release said, adding that Black people are arrested at a higher rate than white people.

Beginning Thursday, the state will also be tasked with expunging thousands of marijuana offenses, NORML said.

“I first attended a NORML national conference in August of 1972,” said Dan Viets, a Columbia defense attorney and the state’s NORML coordinator.  “I, and many others, have remained active advocates for the repeal of the prohibition of responsible adult marijuana use ever since. Article XIV is the culmination of decades of citizen activism.”

Here’s what you need to know about recreational marijuana in Missouri

Missouri voters have legalized recreational pot in the state. Here’s what comes next — when, where you can buy and other key issues.  

06 Oct 1887, Thu St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri)