An organization aiming to rally Missourians for legalizing recreational marijuana is intensifying efforts to get the initiative on next November’s election ballot.
During a Thursday morning press conference, Legal Missouri highlighted key points of their petition. Their primary goal was to legalize the possession, purchase and consumption of marijuana for adults over 21..
The petition’s supporters and organizers are pushing for criminal reform to some marijuana convictions.
Mallory Rusch works with Empower Missouri which is an anti-poverty advocacy organization and the organizer of the criminal justice alliance.
Rusch stated that marijuana is legal in the United States for millions of Americans. Therefore, it makes no sense to continue to punish and penalize people for past or current use.
Rusch supports the Legal Missouri 2022 petition’s automatic expungement provision. She emphasizes that the provision doesn’t apply to all marijuana convictions. It would not remove convictions for offenses such as distribution to minors or driving under the influence of marijuana.
Adolphus Pruitt, St. Louis NAACP, is standing beside Rusch.
Pruitt stated that “This initiative will address” and be “what we consider to be one of the most significant single criminal justice reform efforts in state history.”
Pruitt cites a 2020 report by the ACLU that argues marijuana reform is not only a criminal justice matter, but also a racial one.
Pruitt stated that blacks were 2.5 times more likely to be arrested for possession than whites. “Even worse, in Johnson, Layfette, and Lincoln counties, blacks were 10 more likely to face low-level marijuana charges. “
Pruitt also stated that all drug arrests in Missouri ranged from 2010 up to 2018, 50%.
“It’s time to legalize marijuana in the state. At the same time, ensure that people who were more affected than others can have their records erased automatically.