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Missouri Lawmaker’s New Bill Would Put Marijuana Legalization On 2022 Ballot

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Voters in Missouri could decide in 2022 whether to legalize marijuana under a plan prefiled this week in the state House of Representatives. The proposal would scrap the state’s existing medical cannabis law and replace it with a simpler system meant to serve both patients and adult consumers.

Republican Rep. Shamed Dogan introduced the joint resolution Tuesday, ahead of the new legislative session set to begin next week. Both the House and Senate would need to approve the legislation for the legalization question to go to voters.

“I believe in free markets,” Dogan told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Tuesday, “and I want to regulate marijuana as closely as possible to the regulations we have on alcohol, tobacco and other products.”

The proposed constitutional amendment, HJR 30, or the Smarter and Safer Missouri Act, would legalize marijuana for adults 21 and over and establish a commercial cannabis industry, taxing sales at 12 percent. Unlike legal marijuana programs in most other states, it would require no special licensing “beyond that which is applicable for the cultivating, harvesting, processing, manufacturing, packaging, distributing, transferring, displaying, or possession of any nontoxic food or food product,” according to language of the joint resolution.

Private marijuana cultivation for personal or medical use would also be allowed under the proposal, although the amendment provides no details on whether plant limits or other restrictions would apply.

Advocates attempted to qualify a citizen-initiated legalization measure for last November’s election, but the COVID-19 pandemic scuttled the signature-gathering effort. They’re widely expected to attempt to qualify a 2022 measure that could compete with Dogan’s plan.

Revenue from Dogan’s proposed system would go to a new state fund that would be split among the Missouri Veterans Commission, state infrastructure projects and drug treatment programs.

Courts in the state would be required to expunge all civil and criminal records of “non-violent, marijuana-only offenses that are no longer illegal” within 60 days of the amendment’s passage. Law enforcement would be directed to immediately release anyone incarcerated for such offenses.

There is no mention of social equity or minorities in the proposal, although Dogan, for years the only Black Republican in the state legislature, noted racial disparities in cannabis law enforcement in an opinion piece published last year. By contrast, some other states have directed revenue from legal cannabis to fund communities disproportionately affected by prohibition or designed licensing systems designed to give priority to people from those communities.

The Missouri proposal represents both an effort at criminal justice reform and a rejection of the state’s existing medical marijuana program, which voters approved in 2018. The opaque scoring process for awarding business licenses under the system has drawn lawsuits by applicants denied licenses and sparked controversy among lawmakers. Earlier this year, one Republican senator called the process “one of the biggest boondoggles I have seen in my business life.”

The first legal sales of medical marijuana began in October, and licensing is still in its early stages. As of state numbers released December 23, just 20 dispensaries have been approved to operate, despite the law allowing up to 196 dispensary licenses to be granted. As for manufacturers, only one company can currently produce cannabis-infused products legally in the state.

Critics have complained that the existing licensing caps and scoring process have unfairly limited competition, disadvantaged minority applicants, slowed the program’s rollout and led to higher prices for patients. They’ve also pointed out that millions of dollars in revenue from the fledgling program have gone to cover legal fees rather than programs for veterans, as the law intends. Regulators have countered that they’ve managed to meet constitutional deadlines despite numerous court challenges and procedural obstacles.

Dogan’s new plan would erase the language of the 2018 constitutional amendment in its entirety, including its licensing process and limits on the number of licenses available. In his comments to the Post-Dispatch, Dogan called the current system “too burdensome and too bureaucratic.”

“People might want to take the opportunity to have us take a leading role in this,” he said, “and to craft something that’s not going to be burdensome.”

Medical marijuana would remain legal under the proposed constitutional amendment, with little mention of how it would be regulated or distinguished from consumer products. A medical marijuana section in the amendment says the drug “shall be available to patients, who have a physician’s recommendation for its use” and that patients “shall be afforded the same rights and privileges afforded to any patient treated through conventional therapeutic means, regardless of whether the person is under the care of a physician.”

Marijuana sold for medical use would be taxed at four percent, the same rate as currently applies.

Other provisions in the proposal would prevent Missouri police agencies or state money from assisting with federal marijuana prohibition enforcement efforts, attempt to protect gun owners’ right to bear arms and ban civil asset forfeiture for marijuana offenses.

“This initiative will increase personal freedom, allow law enforcement to focus on violent crime instead of nonviolent marijuana users, and provide revenue for infrastructure, broadband, and drug treatment,” Dogan told Greenway. “I am confident Missouri voters will support these commonsense ideas when they have the opportunity to vote on adult use.”

Dogan’s proposed constitutional amendment is one of a handful of cannabis-related bills prefiled ahead of the coming legislative session. Other bills include proposals to criminalize the disclosure of medical marijuana patient information to unauthorized parties (HB 198, HB 501), expunge certain low-level cannabis offenses (HB 408, HB 546, SB 190), prevent adoption agencies from discriminating against patients who have medical marijuana recommendations or work in the industry (HB 485) and expand the ability of patients to consume cannabis in rental housing and other lodging (HB 486).

Two other proposed House measures would legalize marijuana through statute rather than via Dogan’s constitutional amendment approach: HB 263, sponsored by Rep. Peter Merideth (D), and HB 325, by Rep. Wiley Price IV (D).

Similar proposals were introduced in 2020 (HB 1978) and 2019 (HB 551).

Earlier this year, the House of Representatives defeated an amendment that would have required lawmakers consume a “substantial” amount of marijuana before voting on any legislation. Its sponsor told Marijuana Moment the plan was meant in jest to “get everyone to chill out and get a little chuckle.”

Wisconsin Governor Floats Marijuana Legalization In 2021 Budget To Boost Economy

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.

Ben Adlin is a Seattle-based writer and editor. He has covered cannabis as a journalist since 2011, most recently as a senior news editor for Leafly.

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Texas Lawmakers Approve Marijuana Decriminalization Bill In Committee

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A bill to decriminalize marijuana possession in Texas—as well as a separate proposal to reduce penalties for possessing cannabis concentrates—advanced out of a key House committee on Friday.

These are the latest developments that have come after a week where Texas lawmakers have considered a medley of marijuana reform measures. But arguably the most significant piece of cannabis legislation to move out of committee would make possession of up to an ounce of marijuana a class C misdemeanor that carries a fine but no threat of jail time.

The full House of Representatives approved a cannabis decriminalization bill in 2019, but it did not advance in the Senate that session.

This time around, the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee approved the decriminalization bill, which would also prevent law enforcement from making arrests over low-level possession. Other decriminalization proposals that were under consideration by the panel this week would not prohibit that enforcement action, which is key because police are currently able to incarcerate people who are arrested for class C misdemeanors even though the charge itself does not carry the risk of jail time in sentencing.

The advancing legislation, HB 441, sponsored by Rep. Erin Zwiener (D), would also prevent the loss of a driver’s license or the creation of a criminal record for possession of up to one ounce.

Separately, the committee advanced legislation to make possession of up to two ounces of cannabis concentrates a class B misdemeanor.

Both bills were among the subjects a lengthy hearing the panel held on Tuesday.

“Marijuana bills are moving through the committee process at record speed this session,” Heather Fazio, director of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, told Marijuana Moment. “There’s good reason to be optimistic about the upcoming votes and the House and advocates will be doubling down their efforts to influence senators.”

This action comes one day after the House Public Health Committee unanimously approved a bill to significantly expand the state’s medical marijuana program.

Sponsored by Chairwoman Stephanie Klick (R), the bill would add cancer, chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder (for veterans only) as conditions that could qualify people for the state’s limited medical cannabis program.

It would further allow the Department of State Health Services to add more qualifying conditions via administrative rulemaking. And it would also raise the THC cap for medical marijuana products from 0.5 percent to five percent.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 900 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

On Thursday, the House Agriculture and Livestock Committee also discussed legislation that would make certain changes to the state’s hemp program, including imposing rules related to the transportation and testing of consumable hemp products.

While the Texas legislature has historically resisted most cannabis reforms, there are signs that this session may be different.

House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) said during a Texas Young Republicans event last month that while he wouldn’t be able to distinguish marijuana from oregano, he said, “I understand the issue.”

The speaker said that he voted for a limited medical cannabis legalization bill during his freshman year in the legislature, and his support for the reform is partly based on the fact that he has a “sister with severe epilepsy, and small amounts of CBD oil makes a big difference in people’s lives.”

Phelan also noted that he was a “joint author—no pun intended” of cannabis decriminalization legislation last session.

“I was able to go back home and explain it, and it wasn’t a big deal,” he said. “To me, it’s a reasonable criminal justice reform issue.”

Texans’ support for legalizing marijuana has grown significantly over the past decade, according to a poll released last month.

Sixty percent of state voters now back making cannabis legal “for any use,” the University of Texas and Texas Tribune survey found. That compares to just 42 percent who said the same back in 2010.

Leaders in both chambers of the legislature have recently indicated that they anticipate more modest proposals to be taken up and potentially approved this session, particularly as it concerns expanding the state’s limited medical cannabis program.

Phelan said he thinks “the House will look at” reform measures this year, including bills to legalize for adult use. He said the lawmakers will likely “review those again, and some will get traction, some will not.” However, the Senate remains an obstacle for comprehensive reform.

Legislators in the state prefiled more than a dozen pieces of cannabis legislation ahead of the new session. That includes bills that would legalize recreational marijuana, allow high-THC cannabis for medical use and decriminalize low-level possession of marijuana.

That said, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R), who presides over the Senate, has killed prior efforts to enact reform in the state, raising questions about the prospects of far-reaching changes advancing in the chamber.

Nevada Lawmakers Approve Marijuana Bill To Allow On-Site Consumption Lounges

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Nevada Lawmakers Approve Marijuana Bill To Allow On-Site Consumption Lounges

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A bill to allow on-site marijuana consumption lounges advanced through a Nevada Assembly committee on Friday. The panel separately passed a measure making it so the concentration of THC in a person’s blood cannot be singularly used to determine impairment while driving.

The social use legislation, sponsored by Speaker Pro Tempore Steve Yeager (D), would create two new licensing categories for cannabis businesses in the state. One would be for “retail cannabis consumption lounges” and the other would be an “independent cannabis consumption lounge.”

Existing retailers could apply for the former license and sell products that could be consumed on-site by adults 21 and older. Independent lounges would not be permitted to sell cannabis on their own, but would need to have marijuana products delivered to consumers from another source.

That said, independent licensees could submit a request to regulators to sell cannabis that they produce or to enter into a contract with an adult-use retailer to sell their products.

The state’s Cannabis Compliance Board would also be responsible for creating regulations for on-site facilities and setting fees for license applicants. Businesses that qualify as social equity applicants would have a reduced fee.

Under the legislation, a person “who has been adversely affected by provisions of previous laws which criminalized activity relating to cannabis, including, without limitation, adverse effects on an owner, officer or board member of the applicant or on the geographic area in which the applicant will operate” is considered a social equity applicant.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 900 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

Yeager proposed a large-scale amendment to the proposal before it was approved by the Assembly Judiciary Committee. It builds on the definition and scoring system for social equity applicants, revises public safety requirements for lounges and ensures that products purchased at lounges cannot be removed from the facility, among other changes.

The Las Vegas City Council in 2019 approved an ordinance allowing for social consumption sites within city limits.

That year, Alaska became the first state to enact regulations that provide for the on-site use option at dispensaries. Colorado followed suit with legislation approved that legalized cannabis “tasting rooms” and “marijuana hospitality establishments” where adults could freely use cannabis. Social consumption sites are also provided for in New York’s recently enacted marijuana legalization law.

In Nevada, adding new license types and giving consumers this option—especially in the tourist-centric state—could further boost marijuana and other tax revenues. And Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) has had a particular interest in ensuring that those tax dollars support public education, which he talked about during a State of the State address in January.

Sisolak has also committed to promoting equity and justice in the state’s marijuana law. Last year, for example, he pardoned more than 15,000 people who were convicted for low-level cannabis possession.

That action was made possible under a resolution the governor introduced that was unanimously approved by the state’s Board of Pardons Commissioners.

Under the impaired driving bill that separately cleared the committee on Friday, the per se blood test for THC would no longer be used in determining impairment.

Advocates have argued that the limit is arbitrary and there’s a lack of scientific evidence demonstrating a link between the amount of THC metabolites present in the blood and active impairment.

New Mexico Governor Sends Marijuana Bill Sponsors A ‘Save The Date’ For Expected Legalization Bill Signing

Photo courtesy of Martin Alonso.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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Biden Gets Yet Another Congressional Letter Blasting Marijuana-Related White House Firings

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President Joe Biden has received yet another letter from a lawmaker demanding answers about his administration’s practice of firing or otherwise punishing staffers for prior marijuana use.

Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN) noted the national push to end prohibition and how the White House’s actions reveal a troubling disconnect.

“Cannabis is legal for either medical or adult use in 36 states, with numerous states pursuing efforts to further legalize for adult use,” the congresswoman wrote. “In Minnesota, our state legislature is expected to vote on measures to legalize cannabis in the coming months following years of political and community organizing by activists throughout the state.”

“Minnesotans and the American people are demanding change to our harsh and unequally applied cannabis laws,” she wrote. “I look forward to seeing your Administration reverse course on this harmful and unnecessary hurdle to hiring diverse and talented public servants.”

Craig also mentioned efforts to legalize marijuana at the federal level and commented on Biden’s prior statements on more modest reforms.

“I stand ready to work with you as we revisit our country’s drug laws, including the descheduling of cannabis as a Class 1 drug at the federal level,” she said. “You have previously expressed your commitment to decriminalizing cannabis in acknowledgement that a cannabis conviction or even the stigma of cannabis use can ruin lives and prevent people from voting, gaining employment and contributing to society.”

This is the third letter from lawmakers that Biden has been sent regarding the federal marijuana employment controversy.

A coalition of 30 members of Congress sent a letter last month that sharply criticizes the administration for terminating or punishing multiple White House staffers who disclosed their prior cannabis use. They pointed out that Vice President Kamala Harris and at least one one other Cabinet member are on record about their own marijuana use experiences.

Prior to that, Rep. David Joyce (R-OH) sent a similar message to the president condemning news of the marijuana-related firings for people who were honest about their history with cannabis on a federal form that’s required as part of the background check process.

“Simply put, in a nation where the truth is considered malleable, we need to demonstrate to our young public servants that telling the truth is an honorable trait, not one to be punished,” the congressman wrote. “I respectfully request that your administration discontinue punishment of staff for being honest about their prior cannabis use and reinstate otherwise qualified individuals to their posts.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki addressed the controversy last month, saying during a press briefing that while Biden could theoretically end the policy of firing staff over prior marijuana use himself, that’s not happening as long as cannabis is federally illegal.

She later said that the president’s stance on marijuana legalization “has not changed,” meaning he’s still opposed to the comprehensive reform.

Psaki has previously attempted to minimize the fallout over the cannabis firings, with not much success, and so her office released a statement last month stipulating that nobody was fired for “marijuana usage from years ago,” nor has anyone been terminated “due to casual or infrequent use during the prior 12 months.”

Read the new letter to Biden on White House marijuana employment policy below: 

Letter to Biden Regarding C… by Marijuana Moment

New Mexico Governor Sends Marijuana Bill Sponsors A ‘Save The Date’ For Expected Legalization Bill Signing

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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