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Missouri state rep has high hopes

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Show-Me Cannabis is moving forward with an effort to get a ballot initiative on this November's ticket which would amend the state constitution to legalize marijuana, but they're not making any promises. To get on the ballot they're going to need to collect 320,000 signatures by May 4th. Before they start collecting signatures, however, they are conducting a poll to see how receptive the public would be to legalization. If there isn't deemed to be enough support then Missouri may not see this on the ballot until 2016.

Meanwhile, marijuana legalization efforts are also brewing in the state legislature. On January 28th State Representative Rory Ellinger of University City introduced two bills to the 97th General Assembly; HB 1324 to allow and establish rules for medical marijuana and its companion bill, HB 1325, to decriminalize possession of marijuana for up to 35 grams, capping the allowable fine at $250 and guaranteeing that no one will face incarceration or the loss of their driver's license.

Ellinger announced his plans to introduce these bills back in the summer of 2013, so it can be safely assumed he has been working on building support for this legislation. While he has found a co-sponsor in Rep. Joshua Peters, another Democrat from North St. Louis might not help in persuading representatives from the more rural parts of Missouri. The conservative opinions on marijuana are difficult to predict as the logical, small-government opinion to legalize it conflicts with the more puritanical views of those who are conservative for religious reasons.

Facing even more of an uphill battle would be Missouri State Representative Chris Kelly of Columbia. Rep. Kelly introduced a bill on two days later, on January 30th, that goes further than either Show-Me Cannabis or Rep. Ellinger is attempting. HB 1659 is written to completely bring Missouri into the 21st century in terms of how Missouri treats drug offenders, adding substance abuse treatment as a first step for all drug violations.

Where Rep. Kelly will run into trouble, though, is in how the bill treats marijuana. HB 1659 allows for the regulated sale of marijuana for anyone over the age of 21. The bill sets standards for retail sales and cultivation, but also allows for personal production on a larger scale than the norm has seen so far.

No state law or combination of state laws shall limit the amounts of marijuana, marijuana products, or marijuana extracts that a person other than a licensee may possess at any given time to amounts less than:
(a) Eight marijuana plants and sixteen ounces of usable marijuana;
(b) Sixteen ounces of marijuana products in solid form;
(c) Seventy-two ounces of marijuana products in liquid form; and
(d) One ounce of marijuana extracts.

While this may not seem very extreme to those of rational thought, much of the country is still brain-washed from the Drug War propaganda we have been barraged with for decades. Is Missouri ready for this much progress? We'll find out soon when Show-Me Cannabis finishes their polling. One thing is certain, if the state legislature isn't ready to talk about it then the people will.

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