Story at a glance
- Following passage of a ballot measure in November, Missouri now joins neighboring Illinois in permitting adult recreational marijuana use.
- Both states permit medical and recreational marijuana use, but they are surrounded by others in the Midwest where the substance is still illegal, or only permissible for medical purposes.
- Once Missouri medical dispensaries convert their licenses, it’s up to individual owners as to when they begin selling recreational products.
Missouri is the latest state to legalize possession of marijuana for recreational use, joining 20 other states, Washington D.C., and Guam in legalizing the drug.
Although it is now legal to possess up to 3 ounces of marijuana in Missouri, recreational sales of the drug will not begin until medical facilities convert their licenses, a process that could take months.
Voters approved a ballot measure legalizing the drug in the 2022 midterm elections. The measure amended the state’s constitution to remove bans on purchasing, possessing and selling marijuana for adults aged 21 or older.
According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, adult-use product could be available as early as February 2023. With a 6 percent tax on retail sales, expanded legalization is expected to generate more than $40 million in revenue for the state.
Although the department will begin accepting requests for medical facility licensees to convert to a comprehensive facility on Dec. 8, once approved, it is up to each dispensary to decide when it will begin sales. At this time, the department is not accepting applications for new medical or comprehensive licenses.
The Missouri decision also allows those convicted of nonviolent marijauna-related crimes to petition for parole or incarceration release and have their records expunged.
Those looking to personally cultivate marijuana can begin applying for identification cards on February 6.
Missouri joins its neighbor Illinois in legalizing recreational use, while both medical and recreational marijuana is legal in both states. To the south, medical marijuana is legal in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama, though none of these states allow recreational use.
In late November, New York state began issuing its first marijuana dispensary licenses more than a year and a half after lawmakers voted to legalize recreational use in March 2021.