Marijuana Legalization Movement Spreading

By Alan Van Zandt |

Published 01/15 2014 10:40PM

Updated 01/16 2014 10:03AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) People around the country are watching what is going on with Colorado's legalization of marijuana. That includes people in Missouri.

"I think it's a good thing," said Chris Bennett, who supports marijuana's legalization. "If you regulate something and do it like that."

Bennett is general manager of the Pursuit of Happiness store in St. Joseph, which Bennett calls a tobacco store. Regardless, there's no doubt his store caters to a pro-pot clientele. Bennett says people from all walks of life shop there.

"The people that come in here would shock you," Bennett said. "People who you would never think would come into a shop like this but do."

Some of Bennett's customers think there's too much of a stigma associated with marijuana.

"It's just like going home after work and drinking a beer only instead of getting drunk it's a little bit different," the customer said, who didn't want to be identified.

The Missouri Secretary of State's office reports there are 13 separate petition drives circulating that would loosen laws on the regulation, production, sale and use of marijuana in Missouri.

Local law enforcement says a lot of their time is devoted to marijuana cases.

"It's probably daily, if not every couple days where some kind of case involves marijuana," said Shawn Collie from the Buchanan County Sheriff's Department.

Collie says he's not sure yet if legalizing marijuana would create more work or less work for law enforcement.

"If it's regulated, who's that going to fall on?" Collie asked. "It is going to fall on the state, or the city on how marijuana is sold or who the taxes are going to go to."

Ultimately, officers will enforce the laws on marijuana, whatever they might be.

"We work for the people of Missouri," Collie said. "It's going to be up to those people in Missouri to decide what law they want. It's our job to enforce those laws."

Collie says much of the marijuana confiscated by sheriff's deputies lately has come from either Colorado or California. He says it is of a higher quality than what they've seen in the past.

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