How cannabis products are ultimately taxed is a big part of this puzzle. Jack Cardetti, a spokesperson for Legal MO 2022, explains that under his coalition plan, cannabis will include a 6% state tax and a local tax of up to 3%.
“We think this hits a really fine line between providing valuable revenue for government programs…however, making sure the taxes and cost aren’t so great that consumers keep buying from the illegal market.”
In neighboring Illinois, he says, taxes can be as high as 35% when all is said and done, depending on the amount of THC in the product.
Taxes collected in the first year of legalization, according to Cardetti, are estimated to be between $60 million and $100 million. This money will be split into equal parts between the following programs: Veterans Health Care, Substance Abuse Treatment and Mental Health Services, and Funding for Automated Exclusions.
One of the most important aspects of legalization, although somewhat overlooked in public discourse, is how the state manages to clear the criminal record of nonviolent marijuana offenders.
Elaine Sonny is Dean Emeritus of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law. She says criminal record deletion in general is a relatively new concept in Missouri.
“Only since 2012 has Missouri had any law that expunged criminal records,” she says, adding that only 13 specific crimes can be written off through 2018.
When it comes to how deletion is handled in relation to the legalization of marijuana, she aligns with Legal MO 2022’s position on auto-eradication.
“I think it’s a necessary part of any long-term plan to provide this kind of comfort so that people can get jobs, they can get housing, and they can go on field trips with their kids,” she explains. “The number of consequences that people face long after they have been convicted is very, very large.”