JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — There’s an organized effort to legalize recreational marijuana in Missouri. The Secretary of State’s office has received an initiative petition to place the issue before voters.
The Political Action Committee “Total Legalization” plans to start circulating a petition to gather required signatures in January.
Organizer Charles Jones was involved in a similar effort several years ago which failed because it failed to include a minimum age limit. He says interest waned while signatures were sought for the Missouri Cannabis Restoration and Protection Act which was filed in late 2014.
Jones is now more optimistic. “It’s just going to take a little bit of time and effort” said Jones. “I think we can make it happen. We’ve put together a team and a foundation that, with the right funds, we can definitely get this on the ballot in 2018.”
Jones claims the committee has “designated leaders” in all eight congressional districts, while there’s a plan to have county organizers in all 114 counties. To successfully reach the ballot, a petition must be signed by eight percent of legal voters in any six of the eight congressional districts.
With results from the latest election in, Jones thinks the atmosphere surrounding recreational use of marijuana is changing quickly as other states take steps to legalize it. “There is no sense in a person going to jail for a non-violent, victim less crime for possession of cannabis. That’s just the craziest thing in the world.”
After this month’s election, recreational marijuana is currently, or will soon be legal in seven states and Washington D.C. If it ends up going to a public vote in Missouri, it’s expected to draw strong opposition from a number of groups, including law enforcement officials.
Total Legalization claims to be in good standing with the Missouri Ethics Commission. On its website, the group state’s it “registered as a Political Action Committee with the purpose of changing cannabis laws and educating the public about the cannabis plant”.
Jones say hemp oil from the plant alone could have a major impact on the state’s agricultural industry. “Hemp seed oil as of May 2014 was 30 dollars a gallon. That’s $9,000 an acre. There is no other crop that is out there that’s anywhere close to bringing in this kind of money. That’s just off of the oil that a less than average yield would bring.”
Jones claims the legalization of marijuana in other states has opened the door for widespread testing to find benefits from cannabis plants. He notes Total Legalization’s three board members and ten advisers work on a volunteer basis with no financial compensation. The organization is seeking donations through its website.