Could Missouri Be Next State to Legalize Marijuana?

missouri medical marijuana hbtv hemp beach tvIf one lobbying group has its way, Missourians could decide to legalize marijuana during the November 2014 midterm elections. A telephone survey conducted in September shows an even 50 percent of respondents either “strongly” favored or were “leaning towards” legalization of the drug in the Show-Me State. KMOX reports Show-Me Cannabis conducted the survey through a third-party company.

What was the impetus behind the survey?
The same group attempted to get a similar proposal on the ballot in November, but failed to get the number of required signatures of Missouri voters. John Payne, executive director of Show-Me Cannabis, told the television station, “With two states showing the world that a legal, sensibly regulated market in cannabis works, I expect this trend will not only continue but accelerate.”

What did the poll entail?
The phone survey spoke to 500 voters likely to cast ballots in November 2014. As many as 5 percent said they weren’t sure they would back legalized marijuana in Missouri. When given specifics of the proposal, which included similar ballot language from 2012, 54 percent of voters backed the idea with only 2 percent unsure. More men than women were in favor of legalizing pot. Democrats favored the proposal with 69 percent approval, independents came in with 53 percent favorability while Republicans liked the idea at a 33 percent rate.

What’s next?
Abhi Sivasailam, research director of the National Cannabis Coalition, told there may be even more support in 2016. “When voters are drawn from a broader group, such as likely 2016 voters, the level of popular support for legalizing and regulating cannabis jumps by between 5 and 10 percent,” Sivasailam said. He further believes young voters turn out more in presidential elections.

What about the Missouri General Assembly?
Four bills are currently submitted for perusal in the current session of the General Assembly. House Bill 688 legalizes medical marijuana. Senate Bill 358, which is up for a hearing, exempts industrial hemp with less than 1 percent THC content from classification as a controlled substance. House Bill 511 allows Missourians to expunge misdemeanor cannabis convictions after paying a fee. House Bill 512 makes possessing 35 grams or less of marijuana a non-arrestable misdemeanor offense. All four bills were introduced by Democrats into a Republican-dominated legislature.

Why were the survey results released now?
Several statewide gatherings known as the Afroman Tour happen in four Missouri cities from Tuesday through Saturday. One of the guests is St. Louis Police Sgt. Gary Wiegert, a tea party member hired by Show-Me Cannabis to be a lobbyist. Wiegert sued the department after his approval for a secondary job went through Feb. 25 but was later denied after superiors allegedly found out the officer would work for a marijuana legalization lobbying group, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. In an op-ed piece to the newspaper, Payne called the department’s actions a “failure to communicate.”

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