Marijuana now legal in Missouri: How it effects expungement, licenses, decriminalization

Rich Sugg/rsugg@kcstar.com

Missouri’s Amendment 3 is now in effect, but it might be a minute before adult marijuana users can purchase some bud from their local dispensary.

Voters approved the amendment in November. Which means that the Missouri State Constitution legalizes recreational, adult-use of marijuana and strengthens the rights of medical marijuana users.

Although it is technically in effect, it will take a few months for the state and the current marijuana industry to implement aspects of the amendment. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is responsible for rolling out many aspects of medical and now recreational marijuana programs and DHSS Spokesperson Lisa Cox said it’s important to understand that it won’t all happen overnight.

“It’s just our commitment that we regulate this program as best we can to keep people safe and healthy. That’s our goal,” Cox said, adding that users should continue to get familiar with nuances of the new amendment and how it will impact their lives and their community.

Here’s a breakdown of what will happen next:

Am I allowed to possess weed now?

The amendment does effectively decriminalize the substance statewide. Consumers are now able to possess up to three ounces of cannabis, without a penalty.

Smoking weed will still be prohibited wherever smoking tobacco is prohibited, according to Amendment 3. The penalty for smoking in public in an area that is not designated for smoking will result in a civil penalty and no more than a $100 fine.

Selling marijuana on the street and to kids will still be subject to a felony under current state law. John Payne, from Legal Missouri 2022, said any sale of marijuana outside of the regulated system will remain a criminal offense in Missouri.

Another provision in the amendment says any person younger than 21 years old who “delivers without consideration or distributes without consideration three ounces or less of marijuana” is subject to a $100 fine. This does not apply to selling marijuana. It’s meant to apply to someone who hands their friend marijuana or a joint, Payne said.

How soon will past weed charges be expunged?

Any person previously charged with a nonviolent marijuana-related charge who is not currently incarcerated will have their record reviewed and expunged by the courts by June 8, 2023. This does not apply to people charged with driving under the influence or selling weed to minors.

Changes for medical marijuana patients

Current medical marijuana patients will see an increase in the amount of marijuana they can purchase per month. Their monthly allotment will change from four ounces to six ounces.

The medical patient cards will also now be valid for three years instead of one. So when old or new patients go to apply or renew their patient card, they will now receive a card that is valid for three years at a time.

What about dispensaries?

Medical marijuana facilities, starting tomorrow, will be able to apply for comprehensive facility licenses. Those licenses will be distributed by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and will allow comprehensive medical facilities to sell, cultivate and distribute recreational marijuana in Missouri.

These comprehensive licenses are for large scale facilities that are most likely already established in the medical marijuana industry. DHSS will also start to accept applications for the smaller scale dispensaries on Sept. 4. The department will likely start awarding those licenses as early as October, according to DHSS spokesperson Lisa Cox.

When will I be able to legally purchase recreational weed from a dispensary?

DHSS has to start awarding comprehensive licenses to medical marijuana facilities by Feb. 6. So the very earliest that consumers would be able to buy marijuana products recreationally in Missouri is Feb. 6, 2023.

Kacen Bayless contributed to this story.

If you have more questions about Amendment 3 or recreational marijuana, email us at kcq@kcstar.com.