Missouri Legislator Submits Bill to Legalize Marijuana

Published 02/07 2014 02:35PM

Updated 02/07 2014 09:37PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Missouri District 24 State Representative Chris Kelly has introduced a new piece of legislation.

"I was a judge for seven years. [I saw] too many peoples lives got disrupted and sometimes ruined for no good reason," Rep. Kelly said.

House Bill 1659 is a 55-page document outlining the plan to make marijuana use legal in Missouri.

The bill comes after a petition initiative by the group Show-Me Cannabis. It would impose a 25 percent tax on pot.

"The bill is very much a work in progress," Rep. Kelly said.  "[It's] similar to what Colorado and
Washington are doing."

Said Christian County Sheriff Joey Kyle: "I don't think it's going to cure what ills society."

The bill would also set up a system of retailers, which would be limited in respect to each county's population. Buchanan County could have about 35 sellers and nearby Platte County could have about 36.

Andrew County could only have six retailers.

"I think there's going to be unintended consequences. It's going to be expensive socially to the fabric of our society," Kyle said.

Sheriff Kyle says law enforcement would be tasked with other facets of regulating the drug. But supporters say making marijuana a legal and taxable substance will lessen the burden on law enforcement.

"We've wasted billions with the war on drugs and I don't think we've kept one person from smoking one joint," Rep. Kelly said.

Sheriff Kyle isn't on board, saying legalization would not be a good thing for society.

"Why are we going to cut loose another mind altering drug onto society when we can't control the ones that are already legal?" Kyle said. "Alcoholism is prevalent and we can't get a handle on that."

Rep. Kelly says it's difficult to say how much money the pot tax might generate, but he estimates it could produce as much as $100 million in revenue.

Those in law enforcement say that does not outweigh the socio-economic costs of substance abuse, underage use, and the processing of DUIs.

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