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'It's coming': 2 strategies moving Missouri towards marijuana legalization

St. Charles Co. Republican Ron Hicks filed legislation this week to legalize marijuana, as a separate campaign works towards a ballot initiative this November.

FLORISSANT, Mo. — At Feel State in Florissant, they're serving about 70 medical marijuana patients a day but getting a lot of questions, mostly through social media, from would-be patrons wondering when Missouri might open cannabis sales to all adults.

"I think that adult-use is a hot topic in the industry as a whole," Feel State's Tyler Hannegan said.

Missouri's medical sales were made possible through a voter ballot initiative, but at some lawmakers want adult-use to come through the legislature this time.

"It's coming. Whether we file legislation or not, it's coming," said Rep. Ron Hicks, a Republican representing parts of St. Charles County.

Hicks compiled several measures into his Cannabis Freedom Act omnibill to legalize adult-use with support from both sides of the aisle. He said he's still fielding complaints about the medical rollout.

"If it comes through the legislature, it can be fixed immediately. You don't have to go gathering signatures or anything like that. I would like to see this as a law and not an initiative petition," he explained.

Hicks said a lot of complaints about the current medical marijuana procedures stem from licensing, taxation rates and concerns over how the tax money is used.

But the folks at the Legal Missouri 2022 campaign are pushing for another ballot initiative, providing 5 On Your Side with this statement that cites the legislature's lack of movement on the issue thus far.

"We applaud any Missouri legislator who shares our goals of legalizing the adult use of marijuana and expunging previous, non-violent marijuana offenses. These are core components of the Legal Missouri 2022 citizen-led initiative petition. That’s why important criminal justice reform organizations such as Empower Missouri, the Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Missouri Civil Liberties Association, the state's NORML affiliates, and the Saint Louis area NAACP chapters have all endorsed our campaign. Years of experience has shown that the Missouri General Assembly as a whole is not as supportive of these issues as the overall electorate, so we strongly believe the initiative petition process remains the only path for passing these important criminal justice reforms in 2022." - John Payne, campaign manager for Legal Missouri 2022.

If either method opens Missouri to adult-use marijuana, Hannegan says they're ready to meet demand.

"Our team is more than willing and able to step up continually as we always do," Hannegan said.

Legal MO 22 hopes to gather enough signatures for a statewide legalization vote on the November ballot.

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