ST. LOUIS — Tuesday is Election Day. One of the hot-button issues Missouri voters will decide is whether to legalize recreational marijuana.
Because recreational marijuana is illegal in Missouri but legal in Illinois, tax dollars are going across the river. Next week, you can vote to change that but some are saying not so fast.
"Voters are going to vote next week and I think they're getting swindled,” said Missouri business owner John Grady.
He makes the Delta 8-infused drink Mellochello. He's on board for legalizing marijuana in Missouri but he doesn't like the wording of the amendment to do it.
"They're basically hoodwinking the public to think you're legalizing marijuana when you're not,” he said referring to civil and criminal penalties involved if you violate provisions of the amendment.
Supporters of the proposal said the legal limits in the proposal were reasonable and predicted they could reduce Missouri's 20,000-plus marijuana-related arrests every year by 98%.
"Illegally selling it, that remains a crime,” Legal MO 22 campaign manager John Payne said.
If approved, you will be able to possess three ounces of marijuana in Missouri. Payne points to a growing number of elected leaders who endorse it including Senator Steven Roberts, Representative Nick Scherer, and Board of Aldermen members Megan Green and Jack Coatar. One person you won't find on that list is St. Louis’ mayor.
"I think they need to go back to the drawing board,” she said.
Mayor Tishuara Jones wants to see more business owners afforded the opportunity to sell it.
"It's not going to provide the equity we need right now in the marijuana industry," she said. "This current bill was written by those who currently are in the industry. I think they're putting their thumbs on the scales."
"There are challenges associated with that but this does guarantee a minimum of at least 144 new business licenses and again that's a minimum, more can be issued," Payne said. "Local governments will have jurisdiction over things like consumption lounges or culinary experiences, and those things can be licensed locally with those things set by that municipality.”
Another debate is whether it's best to have voters approve this or let state lawmakers do it. Mayor Jones said if lawmakers do it, laws can be easily revised if problems arise. Payne said lawmakers have had the chance and never acted.