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Legalized pot bill to move through MO House

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As the nation focuses on Colorado and Washington State to see what, if any consequences come from the recent legalization of marijuana in those states, a bill concerning legalized pot in the show-me state is currently making its way through the Missouri Legislature.

The bill, sponsored by State Rep. Chris Kelly (D) of Columbia would make the use of, growing and selling of marijuana by anyone over the age of 21 legal. Kelly, a former Boone County Judge, says he has seen the lives of many young people ruined by convictions of small amounts of the drug. This bill would set up a network of sellers. The number of those licensed to sell pot would be based on the total populations in both St. Louis City and St. Louis County. The bill would also impose a 25% tax, and set up a licensing process for both growers and sellers. However, this bill would allow non-licensed users to keep and transport up to a pound of marijuana, a pound of hashish and a half gallon of hashish oil.

According to the Marijuana Policy Project, Missouri has some of the harshest marijuana laws in the nation. Possession of as little as one gram of marijuana can be punishable by up to one year in prison and a $1000 fine. Possession of over 35 grams, about 1.25 ounces, can be punishable by up to seven years in prison and a $5000 fine.

So by legalizing marijuana, can Missouri collect millions in tax revenue, and relieve overcrowding in the prison system with decriminalization? While Rep. Kelly says he does not condone or advocate the use of marijuana, he believes the bill would save money and stop ineffective government regulation.

House Republicans are far from convinced. State Rep. Galen Higdon (R-St. Joseph), a former Sheriff’s deputy, says he does not want anything else that would bring negative impact on Missouri’s children. Most House Committee members remain extremely skeptical about full legalization for recreational uses, but are a bit more open to discussing the legalization of medical marijuana. This would also be allowed under the bill pending in the Missouri House.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said he could consider a medical marijuana bill, but called anything beyond that, “a bridge too far”.

Preliminary estimates project that an excise tax would generate some $200 million in revenue when fully implemented by 2016. But is that kind of tax revenue worth some of the consequences that come with legalized marijuana? Missourians will most likely make their voices heard to their state lawmakers loud and clear. Legalized pot bill to move through MO House

As the nation focuses on Colorado and Washington State to see what, if any consequences come from the recent legalization of marijuana in those states, a bill concerning legalized pot in the show-me state is currently making its way through the Missouri Legislature.

The bill, sponsored by State Rep. Chris Kelly (D) of Columbia would make the use of, growing and selling of marijuana by anyone over the age of 21 legal. Kelly, a former Boone County Judge, says he has seen the lives of many young people ruined by convictions of small amounts of the drug. This bill would set up a network of sellers. The number of those licensed to sell pot would be based on the total populations in both St. Louis City and St. Louis County. The bill would also impose a 25% tax, and set up a licensing process for both growers and sellers. However, this bill would allow non-licensed users to keep and transport up to a pound of marijuana, a pound of hashish and a half gallon of hashish oil.

According to the Marijuana Policy Project, Missouri has some of the harshest marijuana laws in the nation. Possession of as little as one gram of marijuana can be punishable by up to one year in prison and a $1000 fine. Possession of over 35 grams, about 1.25 ounces, can be punishable by up to seven years in prison and a $5000 fine.

So by legalizing marijuana, can Missouri collect millions in tax revenue, and relieve overcrowding in the prison system with decriminalization? While Rep. Kelly says he does not condone or advocate the use of marijuana, he believes the bill would save money and stop ineffective government regulation.

House Republicans are far from convinced. State Rep. Galen Higdon (R-St. Joseph), a former Sheriff’s deputy, says he does not want anything else that would bring negative impact on Missouri’s children. Most House Committee members remain extremely skeptical about full legalization for recreational uses, but are a bit more open to discussing the legalization of medical marijuana. This would also be allowed under the bill pending in the Missouri House.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said he could consider a medical marijuana bill, but called anything beyond that, “a bridge too far”.

Preliminary estimates project that an excise tax would generate some $200 million in revenue when fully implemented by 2016. But is that kind of tax revenue worth some of the consequences that come with legalized marijuana? Missourians will most likely make their voices heard to their state lawmakers loud and clear.

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