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Missouri Marijuana Activists File Legalization Initiatives For 2022 As Other Groups Prepare Separate Measures

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A group of Missouri marijuana activists recently filed four separate initiatives to put marijuana reform on the state’s 2022 ballot, a move that comes as other advocacy groups are preparing separate efforts to collect signatures for cannabis ballot petitions of their own. Meanwhile, still other activists are focusing on getting the legislature to pass a resolution to place the question of legalization before voters next year.

One group, Fair Access Missouri, is exploring multiple citizen initiatives with the hopes of getting at least one on the ballot next year. Three of the four would create a system of legalized cannabis sales for adults 21 and older, while another would simply amend the state’s existing medical marijuana program.

“We’ve seen across the country that smart rules and an open market are the way to go when legalizing cannabis, and that’s what we’ll be bringing to Missouri,” the organization said in a statement last week.

While the group is pushing four separate measures, there’s overlap among their provisions and it’s likely that advocates at this stage are putting out feelers to see which may have the greatest potential to pass if put to a vote.

Aside from recreational marijuana legalization, three of the new initiatives would amend the state’s medical cannabis program. Among other changes, they would remove licensing caps, repeal the application scoring system, reduce patient fees, allow patients to access a one-year supply instead of 90 days, allow nurses and psychologists to make medical marijuana recommendations, eliminate some restrictions on market participation eligibility for people with prior cannabis convictions, increase the number of patients that a given caregiver can serve and revise the definition of hemp.

But the group is also eyeing broader reform, and three of Fair Access Missouri’s initiatives would accomplish that by implementing a regulated adult-use marijuana market.

The purpose of the measures is to “permit the safe and legal use of cannabis by adults over the age of 21 and to responsibly regulate the cultivation, processing, manufacturing, and distribution of cannabis,” the text states. “The people of Missouri have a right to enjoy the benefits of their labor free from unreasonable regulation.”

Free Access Missouri, which has ties to the Missouri Cannabis Industry Association (MCIA), does seem to be living up to its name based on the measures, which contain provisions that appear to specifically promote industry participation by proposing a system without licensing limits.

With respect to the adult-use legalization measures, differences between them largely come down to brevity and cannabis tax revenue allocation.

Shared provisions include allowing adults to possess up to eight ounces of cannabis and cultivate “up to 25 square feet of flowering canopy of cannabis.”

Regulators would have to promulgate rules to issue cannabis licenses by June 30, 2023, otherwise the industry rules would default to being the same as those for alcohol manufacturing and sales.

There would be no local-opt out provision to fully ban marijuana businesses from operating in a given area in two of the measures. However, local governments would be able to pass ordinances governing time of operation and locations.

One of the initiatives, which is far shorter than the others and doesn’t contain the medical cannabis amendments language that’s in the other three measures, leaves the issue of local control more open, stipulating that jurisdictions must simply “develop and adopt ordinances and policies related to cannabis licensees no later than June 30, 2023.”

Local ordinances could not “create an undue burden on access to consumers,” however. Presumably a blanket ban on retailers could fit the definition of an “undue burden,” but the text of the short measure doesn’t explicitly prohibit that action.

People with marijuana convictions—except for certain felonies or distribution to a person under 17—could petition for a “release from custody and expungement of their criminal record.” These petitions would need to be expedited and granted unless the individual has additional crimes.

Among the two lengthy recreational measures, one would split cannabis tax revenue between the general fund and nonprofits that help people expunge past records, while the other would earmark the funds for a broader range of services, including expanding internet access, improving roads, repairing utilities, substance misuse prevention and treatment, marijuana research, job training for formerly incarcerated people and small business loans and grants for marginalized people.

Eric McSwain, president of Fair Access Missouri, told MO Greenway that a primary goal of the group’s push is to “actually make the medical program better.”

“We’ve seen that mistake in other states where adult use comes around and all of a sudden the medical program suffers or is made to suffer by additional policies,” he said. “We want to avoid that.”

“We want to create a more open market. Where our normal market forces can sort of blend in and do their work in order to set prices, supply, demand, all those sorts of things,” he continued. “We think that’s to the benefit of consumers, patients first, and also adult use consumers—because they’re going to see that competition is going to force higher quality at lower prices.”

Some activists feel that the group’s initiatives don’t quite meet the mark, particularly as it concerns restrictions embedded in the language.

The pro-legalization Crossing Paths PAC, for example, said the limits on personal possession and home cultivation in Fair Access Missouri’s measures would actually create a burden for law enforcement. The group said “continuing to mandate personal possession or homegrow limits would waste law enforcement resources, as police would still have to make a determination of what lawful possession is.”

Further, it expressed concerns about the lack of a distinction between different forms of THC. “We’d welcome the chance to engage with Fair Access or any other group that is unhappy with the significant problems stemming from” the current medical cannabis system, it said.

Fair Access Missouri’s initiatives are also a focus of a MCIA ballot initiative workshop that’s taking place this weekend.

This group isn’t alone in working to put legalization on the 2022 ballot. New Approach Missouri, which successfully got a medical cannabis initiative passed by voters in 2018, is also planning to file a broader reform initiative in the coming days through its campaign committee Legal Missouri 2022,. Details of the proposal have yet to be released, however.

“Our coalition looks forward to putting a cannabis legalization and expungement initiative on the 2022 ballot,” John Payne, campaign director of New Approach Missouri, told Marijuana Moment on Friday. “We are fortunate to live in a state where the citizens have the right to change our laws through the initiative petition process.”

“But that process is an arduous one, which is why of the hundreds of petitions filed every election cycle, only a handful typically reach the ballot, and even fewer are passed into law,” he said. “Our coalition of activists, entrepreneurs, and criminal justice reform advocates looks forward to placing this important issue before voters in 2022 and winning their support, much like we were able to do in 2018 with medical marijuana. We wish others luck as well.”

The organization tried to place the issue of legalization before voters last year, but the COVID-19 pandemic derailed that effort.

Despite the health crisis, activists managed to collect 80,000 raw signatures within months, though they needed 160,199 valid signatures to qualify.

For 2022, proposals to amend the state Constitution will need 171,592 valid signatures from registered voters.

Meanwhile, some advocates want the legislature to take the lead on reform. And Rep. Shamed Dogan (R), who filed a resolution last year to ask voters about legalization on the ballot and compel lawmakers to develop a legal system if approved, is expected to make another push for similar legislation early next year after the prior effort failed to advance this session.

It should be noted that there’s yet another group pushing to put a marijuana initiative on the ballot next year—but one that doesn’t currently having the backing of major trade or advocacy groups. It would similarly legalize cannabis for adult use.

Missouri is just one state where activists are working to qualify marijuana reform for 2022 ballots around the country.

Nebraska marijuana activists have announced plans for a “mass scale” campaign to put medical cannabis legalization on the state’s 2022 ballot.

Two measures were submitted in Wyoming last month to place medical cannabis legalization and adult-use decriminalization measures before voters in 2022.

This month, Idaho activists filed a revised measure to legalize marijuana possession for adults that they hope to place before voters on the 2022 ballot. That’s in addition to a separate medical cannabis effort in the state.

In South Dakota, activists this month filed four separate cannabis ballot measures for 2022.

North Dakota activists are formulating plans for a marijuana legalization measure after lawmakers failed to enact the reform this session.

Meanwhile, the Florida Supreme Court has blocked two cannabis legalization initiatives for which activists had already collected thousands of signatures.

Locally, a newly established Texas progressive group unveiled a campaign last month to put an initiative to decriminalize marijuana possession and ban no-knock warrants on this November’s ballot in Austin.

Ohio activists also recently qualified a measure to decriminalize cannabis to appear on a local 2021 ballot—the first of dozens of reform proposals that could go before voters this year as signature gathering efforts continue across the state. The group is also working to put marijuana initiatives on local ballots in South Carolina and West Virginia.

Top Rhode Island Senator Says Lawmakers Are Discussing A Marijuana Legalization Compromise This Summer

Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.

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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California Senator Seeks Federal Clarification On Medical Marijuana Use In Hospitals

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A California senator is asking the head of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide clarification on whether hospitals and other healthcare facilities in legal marijuana states can allow terminally ill patients to use medical cannabis without jeopardizing federal funding.

State Sen. Ben Hueso (D) on Thursday sent a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure inquiring about the policy. Confusion about possible implications for permitting marijuana consumption in health facilities led pro-legalization Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) to veto a bill meant to address the issue in 2019.

Hueso refiled a nearly identical version of the legislation for this session, and it’s already passed the full Senate and one Assembly committee. It’s now awaiting action on the Assembly floor before potentially being sent to Newsom’s desk.

“Ryan’s Law would require that hospitals and certain types of healthcare facilities in the State of California allow a terminally-ill patient to use medical cannabis for treatment and/or pain relief,” the senator wrote in the letter to the federal officials, with whom he is asking to meet to discuss the issue. “Currently, whether or not medical cannabis is permitted is left up to hospital policy, and this creates issues for patients and their families who seek alternative, more natural medication options in their final days.”

Hospitals that receive CMS accreditation are generally expected to comply with local, state and federal laws in order to qualify for certain reimbursements. And so because marijuana remains federally illegal, “many healthcare facilities have adopted policies prohibiting cannabis on their grounds out of a perceived risk of losing federal funding if they were to allow it.”

But Hueso said that his office received a letter from CMS several months ago stating that there are no specific federal regulations in place that specifically address this issue and that it isn’t aware of any cases where funding has been pulled because a hospital allows patients to use medical cannabis.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,200 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.

Additionally, because the Justice Department has been barred under annually renewed spending legislation from using its funds to interfere in the implementation of state-level medical marijuana programs, the senator said, “we believe the risk of federal intervention is little to none.”

“This confirmation from CMS been quite a breakthrough and we are optimistic it will alleviate the Governor’s concerns,” the letter continues. “However, I want to underscore that, prior to receiving this response, even the Governor of California was under the impression that CMS rules prohibited hospitals and healthcare facilities from allowing medical cannabis use.”

“Undoubtedly other states are struggling with this issue, too,” it says. “As more states decriminalize cannabis and even create recreational markets, we must not forget to also update the books for the most important consumers of all—patients.”

“While ideally the federal government will remove cannabis from its Schedule I designation, I appreciate that this is a lengthy and complex process. In the interim, it would be extremely helpful if you could provide clarification that assures Medicare/Medicaid providers that they will not lose reimbursements for allowing medical cannabis use on their premises. This clarification would go a long way to help hospital staff, security, above all, patients.”

Becerra, while previously serving as California attorney general and as a member of Congress, demonstrated a track record of supporting marijuana law reform.

Meanwhile, there are efforts in both chambers of Congress to end federal marijuana prohibition.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) are currently soliciting feedback on draft legalization legislation they introduced this month.

Meanwhile, a separate House bill to federally legalize marijuana and promote social equity in the industry was reintroduced in May.

The legislation, sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), was filed with a number of changes compared to the version that was approved by the chamber last year.

Read the letter from the California senator to Becerra below: 

Marijuana hospital letter t… by Marijuana Moment

Rhode Island House Speaker Says ‘No Consensus’ On Marijuana Legalization, But It’s ‘Workable’

Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.

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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Rhode Island House Speaker Says ‘No Consensus’ On Marijuana Legalization, But It’s ‘Workable’

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A top Rhode Island lawmaker says that while there’s not yet a consensus among legislators and the governor on a bill to legalize marijuana, it’s still a “workable” issue and would be prioritized if a special session is convened this fall.

House Speaker Joe Shekarchi (D) told The Public’s Radio that it’s “possible” that a special session will be held later in the year after lawmakers failed to reach a deal on competing reform proposals.

“It really depends if we can come to some kind of resolution of consensus on a couple of major bills,” he said, referring to cannabis and a handful of other issues. “If we can, we certainly would come back.” But if not, members will continue to discuss the proposals and prepare to take them up at the start of the next session in January.

“Unfairly, sometimes I have or the House gets blamed for stopping the legalization of recreational use of marijuana, when in reality there is no consensus,” he said. “If we can come to some closeness, in the several different proposals, then we’ll move some kind of legislation. But if not, it just needs more work—and it’s very workable, so it’s very much something that can happen, we just have to put the effort in and make it happen.”

Listen to the speaker discuss the marijuana legalization plan, about 1:00 into the audio  below: 

Shekarchi similarly told Marijuana Moment in an email earlier this week that he’s “not opposed to the legalization of recreational marijuana,” but “there have been very divergent proposals offered by Representative Scott Slater, the Senate, the governor and various advocacy groups.”

“As I have done with other issues, my role will be to bring the parties together and see if we can reach a consensus,” he said. “I will be working on the issue this summer and fall, and if an agreement can be reached, it is possible that one piece of legislation will be brought before the legislature for future consideration. But there is a lot of work to be done to reach consensus.”

Shekarchi and other top lawmakers have previously said they will work this summer to try to reach a compromise on the differing provisions of the competing legalization plans.

Senate President Dominick Ruggerio (D) said earlier this month that he’s not disappointed the House hasn’t advanced legalization legislation yet and that “what we really wanted to do was send it over and have them take a look at it” when his chamber passed a cannabis reform measure last month.

Shekarchi previously said that he feels reform is “inevitable.”


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,200 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.

A key disagreement between the House, Senate and governor’s office concerns who should have regulatory authority over marijuana. Ruggerio was pressed on the issue during the recent interview and said members of his chamber agree that “a separate commission is the way to go with respect to this.”

The House and Gov. Dan McKee (D), on the other hand, want the program to be managed by the state Department of Business Regulation (DBR). Ruggerio noted that “it was difficult to negotiate on a bill when the House bill really didn’t come until late in the session.”

Asked whether he felt the legislature and governor could come to an agreement despite the differences, Senate Majority Leader Mike McCaffrey (D) said this month that “that’s what our goal is.”

“Obviously there’s some issues that different people have relative to different categories of licenses and things like that and how we’re rolling them out,” he said. “Are we going to limit them? what type of equity are you going to give to the different people in different communities so that they can get into the business? And social equity and things of that nature.”

McCaffrey was also asked about provisions related to allowing local municipalities to opt out of allowing marijuana businesses to operate in their area. He said “once the legislation is passed and whatever form is passed in, the communities have an opportunity to opt out.”

“They have an opportunity to opt out if the community doesn’t want to participate in it,” he said. “That’s their decision—however, they don’t get the funds that would come from the sales in that community.”

The majority leader also noted that neighboring states like Connecticut and Massachusetts have enacted legalization, and that adds impetus for the legislature to pursue reform in the state. .

Shekarchi, meanwhile, said this month that he doesn’t intend to let regional pressure dictate the timeline for when Rhode Island enacts a policy change. But it is the case that legalization has now gone in effect in in surrounding states like Connecticut and Massachusetts.

“I’m not in any hurry to legalize marijuana for the sake of legalizing it. I want to do it right,” he said. “It doesn’t matter to me if we’re the last state in the union to legalize it or we never legalize it, but I need to do it right.”

Social equity, licensing fees, labor agreements and home grow provisions are among the outstanding matters that need to be addressed, Shekarchi said.

These latest comment come weeks after the state Senate approved a legalization bill from McCaffrey and Health & Human Services Chairman Joshua Miller (D), which was introduced in March. The governor also came out with his own legalization proposal shortly thereafter.

A third Rhode Island legalization measure was later filed on the House side by Rep. Scott Slater (D) and several cosponsors. The House Finance Committee held a hearing on the measure last month.

The governor, for his part, told reporters that while he backs legalization it is “not like one of my highest priorities,” adding that “we’re not in a race with Connecticut or Massachusetts on this issue.”

“I think we need to get it right,” he said, pointing to ongoing discussions with the House and Senate.

The House Finance Committee discussed the governor’s proposal to end prohibition at an earlier hearing in April.

Both the governor and the leaders’ legalization plans are notably different than the proposal that former Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) had included in her budget last year. Prior to leaving office to join the Biden administration as commerce secretary, she called for legalization through a state-run model.

McKee gave initial insights into his perspective on the reform in January, saying that “it’s time that [legalization] happens” and that he’s “more leaning towards an entrepreneurial strategy there to let that roll that way.”

Shekarchi, meanwhile, has said he’s “absolutely” open to the idea of cannabis legalization and also leans toward privatization.

Late last year, the Senate Finance Committee began preliminary consideration of legalization in preparation for the 2021 session, with lawmakers generally accepting the reform as an inevitability. “I certainly do think we’ll act on the issue, whether it’s more private or more state,” Sen. Ryan Pearson (D), who now serves as the panel’s chairman, said at the time.

Meanwhile, the governor this month signed a historic bill to allow safe consumption sites where people could use illicit drugs under medical supervision and receive resources to enter treatment. Harm reduction advocates say this would prevent overdose deaths and help de-stigmatize substance misuse. Rhode Island is the first state to allow the facilities.

The Senate Judiciary Committee also held a hearing in March on legislation that would end criminal penalties for possessing small amounts of drugs and replace them with a $100 fine.

Ohio Lawmakers Officially File Marijuana Legalization Bill In Historic First For The State

Photo courtesy of WeedPornDaily.

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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Ohio Lawmakers Officially File Marijuana Legalization Bill In Historic First For The State

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Ohio lawmakers on Friday formally introduced a bill to legalize marijuana possession, production and sales—the first effort of its kind in the state legislature. This comes as activists are pursuing a separate ballot initiative that would effectively force the legislature to consider similar cannabis reforms.

Reps. Casey Weinstein (D) and Terrence Upchurch (D) filed the legislation, weeks after circulating a co-sponsorship memo to colleagues to build support for the measure.

The 180-page bill would legalize possession of up to five ounces of cannabis for adults 21 and older and allow them to cultivate up to 12 plants for personal use. It also includes provisions to expunge prior convictions for possession and cultivation activities that are being made legal under the measure.

A 10 percent excise tax would be imposed on marijuana sales, with revenue first going toward the cost of implementation and then being divided among municipalities with at least one cannabis shop (15 percent), counties with at least one shop (15 percent), K-12 education (35 percent) and infrastructure (35 percent).

“It’s time to lead Ohio forward,” Weinstein said in a press release. “This is a big step for criminal justice reform, for our veterans, for economic opportunity, and for our individual liberties.”

The state Department of Commerce would be responsible for overseeing the program and issuing cannabis business licenses.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,200 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.

Individual municipalities could restrict the type and number of marijuana that operate in their area. The bill specifically states that the state’s existing medical marijuana program would not be impacted by the establishment of an adult-use market.

“This bill is much needed in Ohio, and it’s time for Ohio to become a national leader in marijuana decriminalization and legalization,” Upchurch said. “This bill is more than just about legalization, it’s about economic and workforce development, it’s about decriminalization, and it’s about healthcare! The time is now, and I look forward to getting this done in a bipartisan fashion.”

Gov. Mike DeWine (R) is likely to oppose the effort given his record, but activists have effectively demonstrated through local initiatives that voters in the state broadly support enacting a cannabis policy change.

A newly formed organization called the the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CTRMLA) is also actively collecting signatures for a statewide ballot measure that would separately force lawmakers to consider taking up legalization legislation once a certain signature gathering threshold is met.

“I’m glad to see it! It’s added momentum toward legalization,” Weinstein told Marijuana Moment earlier this week of the ballot effort. “And hopefully a looming ballot initiative will add some incentive for my Republican colleagues to work with me on my bill.”

Meanwhile, 22 jurisdictions have adopted local statues so far that reduce the penalty for low-level cannabis possession from a misdemeanor punishable by jail time and a fine to the “lowest penalty allowed by state law.” And activists are pursuing similar policy changes in dozens of cities this year.

Don Keeney, executive director of NORML Appalachia, told Marijuana Moment that local officials have so far certified decriminalization initiatives in five cities they were targeting this year: Laurelville, McArthur, Murray City, New Lexington and New Straitsville.

Ohio activists had hoped to place a cannabis legalization initiative on the statewide ballot last year, but that effort stalled as the COVID-19 outbreak and resulting public health restrictions made signature gathering all but impossible.

Local advocates sought relief through the court system to make it so they could collect signatures electronically for 2020 ballot initiatives, but the lawsuit was repeatedly rejected—most recently by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which ruled on Wednesday that the challenge was no longer relevant because last year’s election has passed and the case was therefore moot.

Read the text of the Ohio marijuana legalization bill below: 

Ohio marijuana legalization… by Marijuana Moment

GOP Senator Sponsoring Marijuana Banking Bill Proposes Controversial Welfare Restrictions For Cannabis Purchases

Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.

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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