Missouri in focus as marijuana advocates seek broader legalization

Backers of broad marijuana legalization are working to make a geographic breakthrough in next month’s elections, and Missouri is among the states at the center of the effort.

After scoring victories in the Northeast and West, marijuana advocates want to make legal inroads in the Midwest.

Voters in Michigan and North Dakota will decide whether to legalize marijuana for use by any individual 21 or older, which would make them the 10th and 11th states to legalize recreational marijuana.

Meanwhile, Missouri and Utah will vote on medical marijuana, which is currently legal in 31 states.

A ‘breaking point’

“We’ve kind of reached a critical mass of acceptance,” said Rebecca Haffajee, a health management and policy professor at the University of Michigan.

The country may be near a “breaking point,” she said, where federal legalization becomes inevitable because of widespread acceptance by the states.

Ballot issues

In Missouri, confusion over ballot language could prove a hurdle to acceptance. Medical marijuana supporters in the state have submitted three initiatives. Two would alter the Missouri Constitution, and the third would change state law.

If all three measures pass, the constitutional amendments would trump the law, with whichever amendment draws the most votes overruling the other.

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