While the bill has a slim chance of actually passing, the Missouri House Monday night discussed the legalization of limited amounts of cannabis for adults 21 and up. Rep. Chris Kelly, a former county judge, said he bought into the war on drugs for too long and that his time serving as a judge showed him that there needs to be a different approach to cannabis.
“I saw too many young people whose lives were ruined by using small amounts of marijuana,” Kelly told the Kansas City Star.
For his own part, Kelly says he doesn’t support cannabis use at all. He just thinks that money and law enforcement resources could be much better spent. And law enforcement agreed. Lincoln County Missouri Chief of Police Larry Kirk said that his officers have much better things to do than worry about minor possession tickets.
Of course, being Missouri, the bill has its share of clueless opponents. Rep. Kenneth Wilson, a retired cop, said marijuana already causes enough “ills” in society and that legalization would have dire consequences for children forced to inhale second hand smoke. Others fear that legalizing cannabis for responsible adults will make it more attractive for youth.
Kelly’s bill would also legalize the commercial cultivation and sales of cannabis. There would be a 25 percent excise tax on the wholesale end of things and things like advertising and where a dispensary could be located would be regulated by the state. Some estimates show that the bill could create as much as $200 million in additional revenue for the state with money going to state pension programs as well as mental health and addiction programs.
In addition to recreational marijuana, Kelly’s bill also opens the door for medical use of cannabis.
Unfortunately the committee did nothing with the bill and didn’t give any timelines for when (or if) they would move the bill forward to the full House.
Watch a video of the entire committee meeting below: