In a little more than a month, voters in Missouri will head to the polls and decide whether or not the state should become the latest to legalize recreational cannabis use for adults.
The outcome appears to be decidedly up in the air.
The Missouri Independent this week highlighted a pair of recent polls that “found voters closely divided over the question of whether Missouri should legalize recreational marijuana use.”
A poll from Emerson College showed that a plurality of voters in Missouri—48%—support Amendment 3, which would legalize adult-use cannabis in the Show Me State and establish a regulated recreational weed market there.
The poll found that 35% of voters in the state are opposed to Amendment 3, with another 17% who said they are unsure.
That survey was no doubt more encouraging to supporters of the amendment than another poll from Remington Research Group. According to the Missouri Independent, this survey showed that “only 43% of respondents [are] in support of Amendment 3, compared to 47% against and 10% unsure.”
Another poll painted a very different poll from those two. A poll last month from SurveyUSA found a huge majority of 62% in Missouri support Amendment 3, compared with 22% who said they were opposed and 16% who said they remain undecided.
All three of those polls were conducted in September.
Despite the nebulous outlook, Legal Missouri 2022, the group behind the amendment, remains confident that it will pass next month.
“Support for Amendment 3 continues to grow every day because legalizing marijuana allows law enforcement to focus on fighting violent and serious crime, while bringing tens of millions of revenue to the state annually,” Legal Missouri 2022 campaign manager John Payne told the Missouri Independent.
Just ensuring that Amendment 3 made it to the ballot was itself a triumph for Legal Missouri.
The group submitted nearly 400,000 signatures to the Missouri secretary of state in May, but by mid-summer, there were reports that organizers may have still fallen short.
In order for such a measure to qualify for the Missouri ballot, organizers were required to collect signatures from at least 8% of registered voters in six of the state’s eight congressional districts.
A local television station reported in July that the signature count in four of the districts appeared to be extremely tight.
“I can’t say without any certainty whether it will make it or not. It is in no way certain that they will fail. This isn’t dead,” Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft said at the time.
Ashcroft was right to urge caution. A month later, in August, Ashcroft’s office said that organizers had met the signature requirement and that the amendment qualified for the ballot.
“Our statewide coalition of activists, business owners, medical marijuana patients and criminal justice reform advocates has worked tirelessly to reach this point, and deserves all the credit,” Payne said in a statement at the time. “Our campaign volunteers collected 100,000 signatures, on top of paid signature collection. That outpouring of grassroots support among Missourians who want to legalize, tax and regulate cannabis made all the difference. We look forward to engaging with voters across the state in the coming weeks and months. Missourians are more than ready to end the senseless and costly prohibition of marijuana.”
If it were to pass, Amendment 3 would allow “Missourians with nonviolent marijuana-related offenses to automatically expunge their criminal records,” while levying a 6% state tax on marijuana retail sales. It would also allow “local governments to assess local sales taxes of up to 3%.”