Marijuana legalization would help people get their mail on time, says congressman

A Republican lawmaker in Missouri on Tuesday unveiled a bill to tax and regulate adult-use marijuana in the state. It would provide debarment opportunities, authorize social consumption facilities, and allow cannabis businesses to claim tax deductions from the state.

Rep. Ron Hicks (R) filed the omnibus legislation, titled the “Cannabis Freedom Act.” He said in a memo to colleagues that the measure was drafted to thoughtfully incorporate elements of “every marijuana bill introduced this session” to create a “free but tightly regulated market for legal marijuana.” “.

Here’s what cannabis legislation would accomplish as written:

Possession, home cultivation and license

The bill would allow adults 21 and older to purchase and possess cannabis from authorized retailers. There doesn’t seem to be a possession limit in the measure; it simply removes existing laws criminalizing the activity. Adults could also grow up to 12 plants for their personal use.

The Missouri Department of Agriculture would be responsible for regulating the adult use program, just as it currently does for hemp. It would be necessary to develop rules for issuing temporary and annual licenses to retailers, producers, processors, transporters and wholesale distributors of cannabis. There would be no cap on the number of licensees that could be approved.

Interestingly, the legislation also states that adults could “contract” with a licensed grower to grow up to 12 plants on their behalf for personal use and also work with licensed processors to produce marijuana products.

Social equity and consumer protection

Additionally, the measure contains expungement provisions, allowing those convicted of nonviolent marijuana for activities made legal under the bill to ask the courts to expunge their records. Those currently incarcerated would also be eligible for a new sentence, and those on probation or parole would be allowed to use marijuana.

Police would not be allowed to use the smell of marijuana alone to conduct a warrantless search of a person’s private property under the law. And cannabis could not be used “as a factor in family court proceedings.”

The bill further states that medical cannabis patient information cannot be shared with federal authorities.


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Taxation, banking and social use

The state Department of Revenue would set a tax rate for adult use marijuana sales that could not exceed 12%. There would be no such tax on medical cannabis products.

Taxpayer money the state generates from the recreational market would be deposited into a “cannabis freedom fund,” with revenue first covering the administrative costs of implementing the marijuana program. The remaining revenue would be “divided equally between teacher salaries, first responder pensions, and the Missouri Veterans’ Commission.”

Licensed marijuana businesses could also make tax deductions from the state up to the amount they would otherwise be eligible under federal law if they were operating in a federally legal industry. Cannabis businesses across the country are required to pay federal taxes, but they cannot receive tax benefits.

People who apply for a cannabis business license in Missouri and pay the application fee could also deduct that cost if they are ultimately denied the license.

Hicks’ bill also adopts a provision from a separate cannabis bill that would authorize “hospitality licenses” so that hotels, bars and restaurants can “sell and serve marijuana or marijuana at events or private places”.

He wrote in his memo to fellow lawmakers that this provision will give the state’s hospitality industry a “chance to benefit from what should be a +$2 billion market here in Missouri.”

State financial regulators could not “prohibit, penalize, take adverse action against, or otherwise discourage a bank or trust company from providing financial services,” the text says. However, the bill would not require financial institutions to accept cannabis customers.

The measure explicitly states that interstate marijuana sales would be allowed if Congress decides to end the federal ban.

Restrictions and room for improvement

“Furthermore, this proposal prohibits sales to minors and does not prohibit the enforcement of impaired driving laws if a driver is impaired by marijuana use while driving,” Hicks said. “It is important to note that we sought input from lawmakers and law enforcement in several other states, including Colorado, Nevada, Oklahoma and Illinois.”

“I specifically incorporated stringent regulatory, compliance and enforcement requirements developed by Oklahoma Rep. Scott Fetgatter (R),” he said, adding that “the goal here was to prevent criminal syndicates from playing any licensing protocol to divert marijuana to illegal markets in other states.

Hicks stressed that his 74-page omnibus bill “is not perfect and I urge you to continue contributing as we move through the legislative process.”

The lawmaker also specifically noted that it was working with members of the Black Caucus “to further ensure that startups in this market space can access loan and grant programs to ensure that entrepreneurs can compete on a competitive footing.” ‘equality”.

He reiterated in a press release that the “Cannabis Freedom Act is the product of input from many different stakeholders, including members of law enforcement and those who have endured incarceration for conduct that the society now deems acceptable”.

New Haven Police Chief Chris Hammann and former Carter County District Attorney Rocky Kingree said in a joint statement that “law enforcement no longer needs to be put in charge of the job ungrateful Marijuana Prohibition and Cannabis Freedom Act authorizes restorative justice actions that will continue.” the work of repairing the relationship and trust between the government and its citizens.

There’s also at least some bipartisan buy-in in the legislature, with Rep. Michael Johnson (D) saying the bill “will put Missouri at the forefront of the evolving national conversation about ending marijuana prohibition. “.

“From release and debarment protocols for offenders to opportunity for our hospitality sector to the ability to give our farmers more options in the marketplace, this proposal is the right thing at the right time for our state,” said- he declared.

Meanwhile, another Missouri Republican lawmaker is pushing again to put cannabis legalization on the ballot. But some activists aren’t waiting for the legislature to take action to put the issue to voters, with a campaign officially kicking off signature collection last month for a separate reform initiative.

Rep. Shamed Dogan (R) recently pre-tabled his joint resolution to place a constitutional amendment on legalization on the 2022 ballot. He put forward a similar proposal last year, but it did not move forward.

Under this plan, adults 21 and older could buy, possess and grow cannabis for personal use. It also does not specify the eligible amounts.

Separately, the group New Approach Missouri, which successfully pushed a medical cannabis initiative through voters in 2018, announced last summer its intention to put the reform proposal to the ballot through its new Legal Missouri 2022 campaign committee.

The organization tried to put the issue of legalization before voters in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic derailed that effort.

Despite the health crisis, the activists managed to collect 80,000 raw signatures in a few months, while they needed 160,199 valid signatures to qualify.

A different campaign, Fair Access Missouri, is separately exploring several citizen initiatives in 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 modify the state’s existing medical marijuana program.

Another state lawmaker introduced a bill late last month to decriminalize a range of drugs, including marijuana, psilocybin, LSD, MDMA and cocaine.

The introduction of the measure came after a Republican lawmaker in Missouri introduced a separate bill to give residents with serious illnesses legal access to a range of psychedelic drugs like psilocybin, ibogaine and LSD. through an expanded version of the state’s existing right to try law.

Nearly one in 10 jobs created in Missouri last year came from the state’s medical marijuana industry, according to an analysis of state labor data released by a trade group earlier this month. -this.

Separately, legislative drama is unfolding in the state over a proposal that supporters say would limit their ability to place constitutional amendments on the ballot.

Marijuana legalization would help people get their mail on time, says congressman

Photo courtesy of WeedPornDaily.

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