Missouri ballot measure to legalize marijuana faces uphill battle

Friday, April 27, 2012 | 4:59 p.m. CDT; updated 7:41 p.m. CDT, Monday, April 30, 2012

*Show-Me Cannabis does not yet know whether it will have enough signatures to qualify proposals for the November ballot that would seek to legalize marijuana use in Missouri. An earlier version of this story incorrectly characterized Chairman Dan Viets' description of the group's chances for collecting enough signatures.

COLUMBIA — A leader of Missouri's legal marijuana movement said his group *faces an uphill battle to qualify for the November statewide ballot.

A group called Show-Me Cannabis must turn in roughly 144,000 signatures by early May to get its proposals on the ballot. The group's chairman, Columbia attorney Dan Viets, said Friday the group has collected only about one-third of that number, but doesn't know how many petitions are still circulating.

One proposal would amend the Missouri Constitution to legalize cannabis for people 21 years and older, let doctors recommend use of medicinal marijuana and release prison inmates convicted of nonviolent offenses related to the drug. It would also let the legislature enact a marijuana tax of up to $100 per pound.

A similar proposal would enact a state law instead of amending the Missouri Constitution. 

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