What has (and hasn't) changed
Wed, 11/16/2022 - 11:57am admin
Let's get straight to the point -- by the time you read this, it is still illegal to smoke pot for fun in Missouri. The majority has spoken, and that will soon change. Fifty-three percent of voters passed Amendment 3 to the Missouri State Constitution last Tuesday.
Nominally, Amendment 3 legalized the recreational use and growing of marijuana in Missouri. According to Howell County Sheriff Brent Campbell, however, the lengthy and labyrinthian document contains more than meets the eye. On Nov. 11, he spoke to Howell County News about his concerns for enforcement and the potential repercussions of the extra language.
"You're passing a constitutional amendment," Sheriff Campbell points out. "I don't think people understand the gravity of that. You look at a 30-plus page amendment, and you look at the money thrown at it. This is the new 'big tobacco'...Are they gonna value profit over public health? That's what is concerning, honestly."
"We won't know the repercussions and the tragedies of a known psychoactive drug for years to come," he added.
For the moment, however, nothing has changed. Law enforcement enforcement procedures will remain unchanged, Sheriff Campbell confirms. The purchase and sale of recreational marijuana will not be legal until February 2023.
"Right now, you can't just go out and purchase marijuana and think you can use it if you are not a medical marijuana card holder," explains Sheriff Campbell. "That is the law, until it changes."
Once recreational marijuana is for sale, it will be available from licensed retailers. At first, these retailers will be established medical marijuana facilities. Amendment 3 requires the Department of Health and Senior Services to begin awarding comprehensive licenses to medical marijuana facilities by Feb. 6, 2023. Additional recreational dispensaries will begin receiving licenses in September 2023.
Once legal, a "cultural shift in enforcement" will be necessary, Sheriff Campbell said. Smoking recreational marijuana will be legal in all the same places where smoking cigarettes is currently permitted, but driving under the influence of marijuana will remain illegal. This is one of many, many nuances of Amendment 3 that will create "an additional burden on law enforcement", according to Sheriff Campbell.
For instance, moving forward, the smell of marijuana can no longer be the sole probable cause for the search of a vehicle, he says. Stemming and policing the black-market sale of marijuana will fall squarely in the lap of local law enforcement officers. Sherriff Campbell said he has heard of no indication of forthcoming support or resources from any state or federal agencies in response to Amendment 3.
"I don't think there ever was enough education [about the harmful effects of recreational marijuana]," he said. "We need to start tracking in the state of Missouri: is it affecting public health? Is there added stress on law enforcement? What is it doing to our adolescents? To highway safety? Don't listen to the propaganda. Educate yourself."