Missouri lawmakers weighing business-friendly recreational marijuana bill

The Missouri Legislature is considering a measure that would preempt a potential recreational marijuana ballot initiative favoring existing medical cannabis operators and put in place a more wide-open, adult-use law.

Activists made their support known for the measure, the Cannabis Freedom Act, during a public hearing Tuesday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

The Cannabis Freedom Act, or House Bill 2704, would allow unlimited licensing by the state.

By contrast, Legal Missouri 2022, which is trying to qualify for the November ballot, would enable MMJ operators to get first crack at a recreational marijuana market and would limit licenses, the Post-Dispatch reported.

“(Legal Missouri 2022) eliminates nearly all competition through constitutionally protected license caps,” Christina Thompson of ShowMe Canna-Freedom said during the public hearing.

“Recreational licenses created under the initiative will go straight to established businesses as well, meaning instead of opening up more business opportunities for others, money only goes to those who are already profiting.”

Opponents of the bill included Joe Delia, chief operating officer of Route 66 Cannabis, who said current marijuana supply already has outpaced demand.

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It’s unclear about the prospects of the measure in its current form.

In fact, the Post-Dispatch reported, Republican state Rep. Ron Hicks – who sponsored the Cannabis Freedom Act – said after speaking with someone from the industry that he was open to amendments, including a licensing limit of some sort.