"SHOW ME CANNABIS": Missouri voters may be asked to legalize marijuana in 2012

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JEFFERSON CITY, MO. – A Columbia-based group has won approval to begin circulating a petition to legalize marijuana in the state of Missouri.

On Monday, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan gave the group Show-Me Cannabis the go-ahead to begin circulating two ballot referendum petitions that, if successful, would make marijuana use legal for all state residents over the age of 21 and make Missouri’s cannabis laws the most relaxed in the country.

The ballot petitions, which are virtual identical, would also make the drug’s use legal for anyone under 21 for medical reasons, release any individual currently incarcerated or on probation for non-violent, cannabis-only offenses and allow the state to create a tax of up to $100 per pound of dried marijuana.

In a fiscal not attached to the petitions, the Secretary of State’s office estimated that state operating costs would increase by at least $1 million due to a new licensing system that would have to be created if the measure was passed, but that those cost would be offset by an increase in fee and tax revenues generated by the legal sale of the drug.

If supports are able to obtain enough signatures, the issue would appear on the ballot in November 2012. To get a referendum on a statewide ballot, signatures must be obtained from 5 percent of registered voters in six of the state’s nine congressional districts by May of next year.