On the eve of Missouri’s next legislative session, one Republican lawmaker in the state is angling to legalize pot.
State House Rep. Shamed Dogan says he intends to put up a bill in the upcoming session that would add the “Show Me State” to the ranks of those that have ended the prohibition on marijuana.
“We spend more time and more law enforcement resources going after marijuana smokers than all the other drugs combined,” Dogan said, as quoted by local television station Fox 4. “Ten percent of the arrest in the state of Missouri right now are from marijuana possession.”
According to the state, Dogan’s bill will represent the first time “a Missouri Republican representative is pushing to legalize recreational marijuana.”
“I think alcohol prohibition taught us that trying to prohibit something this way, the way we’ve gone about marijuana prohibition, it backfires,” Dogan said, adding: “I mean, you can buy any amount of alcohol you want, right? You can buy any amount of tobacco that you want, so I think it should be regulated the same ways.”
Legalization With A Side of Restorative Justice
Under Dogan’s proposal, Missouri adults aged 21 and older would be able to use marijuana, and he said that it would also automatically release from prison “anybody that is still serving a prison term for marijuana-only offenses and then expunges from your record if you have a non-violent marijuana offense.”
“If you are currently incarcerated [more than] a marijuana offense, so if you have a marijuana offense but you also committed a robbery, you don’t get out,” Dogan said, as quoted by Fox 4.
Legalization has yielded restorative justice elsewhere. In Illinois, where marijuana was made legal at the start of last year, the state’s governor, J.B. Pritzker, marked the start of 2021 by expunging nearly thousands of more low-level pot convictions, bringing the total number to nearly 500,000.
And Dogan’s sponsorship of the proposal is yet more evidence of how bipartisan support for legalization has become. Four more states legalized recreational pot use in November, including two—South Dakota and Montana—that were carried by Donald Trump and have been historically conservative.
Those results have already inspired some other red state officials to consider doing the same, including in Wyoming, where polls a majority support recreational pot use for adults.
Missouri voters resoundingly approved a proposal to legalize medical marijuana in 2018, but according to Fox 4, unlike the medicinal program, Dogan’s proposal “will not cap the number of licenses issued statewide.”
“If you could put together a business plan, if you could get approval from your city or county board in terms of zoning, in terms of whatever restrictions they want to put on not having these places too close to schools, but beyond the city and county ordinances about locational and number per city and per county, there wouldn’t be any state regulation of that,” Dogan said.
Dogan’s proposal follows a failed effort last year to get a recreational marijuana proposal on Missouri’s ballot after activists were unable to round up the requisite number signatures to qualify.