A Missouri House committee Monday considered legislation for the first time this year that would legalize marijuana use for most adults, but the Democratic proposal faces an uncertain fate in the state’s Republican-dominated Legislature.
Under the measure, Missouri would join Washington and Colorado as the only states to legalize recreational marijuana use. Missouri’s version would guarantee the right of people older than 21 to produce, sell, distribute and use pot.
The bill’s sponsor said he was against legalizing marijuana use until he changed his mind after serving on the bench.
“I saw too many young people whose lives were ruined by using small amounts of marijuana,” said Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, and a former Boone County judge.
Some Republican committee members were skeptical about the bill during Monday’s hearing. Rep. Kenneth Wilson, a retired police officer, said he was concerned about the effect of secondhand smoke if marijuana was used in homes around children.
“We often forget about the ills that this is going to cost society,” said Wilson, R-Smithville.
Although marijuana possession remains a federal crime, the federal government has announced that it will not challenge the laws in Washington and Colorado.
Missouri’s legislation would allow the state to adopt various regulations on marijuana distribution and usage, as well as levy an excise tax up to 25 percent of the drug’s original cost. The state could choose to restrict usage within 1,000 feet of a public school or university. It could also limit advertisements for the drug and the amount people are allowed to buy at a given time.