A key backer of a new initiative to legalize recreational marijuana use in Missouri said Friday he is confident supporters can get the signatures needed to make the ballot.

To make the November ballot, organizers need to gather 160,199 signatures by May 3, 2020. 

Dan Viets, Missouri state coordinator for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and board chair of Missourians for a New Approach, said that considering the time frame of the previous campaign to bring medical marijuana to the state, he is confident he will be successful in gathering the number of signatures needed to make the ballot. 

"It is a tight time frame, and we are going to have to scramble to raise the money," Viets said. "But it is totally doable." 

On Nov. 9, 2018, Missourians for a New Approach received 1,572,592 votes towards the passage of Amendment 2, which legalized the use of medical marijuana in Missouri. 

The provisions of the petition to legalize recreational use include the legal use of recreational marijuana above the age of 21, the option for local communities to opt out of adult-use retail marijuana sales by vote, the option to expunge criminal-related marijuana defenses and the taxing of retail sales of marijuana at 15%, according to a news release from Missourians for a New Approach. 

"It's time we stop treating adults who use cannabis responsibly like criminals," Viets said. "We should tax and regulate marijuana like we do alcohol." 

Taxing marijuana is projected to raise $93 million to $155 million annually in Missouri by 2025, according to the state's fiscal estimate. Eleven states, including Illinois, have regulated and taxed adult use marijuana, according to the release. 

"It won't be easy, but we have no doubt we will succeed," Viets said.

Supervising editors are Kaleigh Feldkamp and Hannah Hoffmeister.

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