Signatures are being gathered to try and ask Missourians if medical and recreational marijuana should be legalized, regardless of age. Steve Leck of Springfield wants to get the issue on the November 2018 ballot. It also aims to allow people to drive under the influence of marijuana.
“We believe that it should be treated no differently than alcohol in terms of any adult should be able to consume whatever they want as long as they are not affecting anybody else or harming anyone else,” says Leck.
He says an age limit is not included because of medical purposes only because many children with different health problems, like epilepsy and cancer, could benefit from cannabis.
“We’re not advocating the recreational sales to minors by any stretch,” he says.
A recent CBS poll found 61% of voters favor making marijuana legal for adults and another 88% back the legalization of medical marijuana in the U.S. The poll included a random sample of 1,011 U.S. adults.
Leck says his initiative petition aims to prevent unjust vehicle searches.
“We think that if they (law enforcement officers) believe that if somebody is driving under the influence, which has happened several times, then they use that as a way to reach your amendments and actually do a search and call that reasonable cause,” says Leck. “We’ve actually heard the story, they have red eyes from allergies. All of the sudden they are being pulled over, their rights are being violated, their car is being searched. If we eliminate that, we can keep intact some of our amendments guaranteed by both the state and U.S. Constitutions.”
The initiative would also ask Missourians if:
* Missouri officials should be prohibited from assisting with the enforcement of federal marijuana offenses;
*individuals should be released from jail, parole and probation if convicted only of nonviolent marijuana related crimes;
*all state civil and criminal records of nonviolent marijuana related crimes should be destroyed, and
*the taxation of physician recommended medical marijuana should be prohibited.
The material submitted to Republican Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft’s office says if passed by voters, the initiative could save the state about $10.7 million annually. Additional state operating costs resulting from the proposal are estimated to cost about $700,000 annually. The measure says local law enforcement costs could increase.
Opponents of the measure say legalizing marijuana would increase the state’s crime and incarceration rates. They also contend that there would be an increase in recreational marijuana use by youth.