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Leadership: How Missouri Governor Mike Parson Has Supported Sensible Cannabis Policy

In January 2019, Missouri Governor Mike Parson, a Republican, did something very few people expected: he publicly supported the effort to expunge marijuana offenses, led by Missouri State Representative Ron Hicks. As Marijuana Moment reported:

The Columbia Tribune reported last month that he “supports expunging possession convictions for medical marijuana patients.”

“I think we ought to look at that issue,” the governor told the newspaper. “If you’ve got people that happen to be in jail or prison for something that was illegal two months ago and today it’s not, that’s a discussion to have.”

A spokesperson for his office told The Kansas City Star that the governor is “open to proposals and [an expungement law] is something he would consider.” However, “he still needs to see the final proposals as they make their way through the legislative process.”

Unfortunately, the controversy over the operation and licensing processes of Missouri's medical marijuana program overshadowed Governor Parson's message on expungement and forgiveness of marijuana offenders. As you may know, the medical marijuana program was created by the corrupt New Approach Missouri campaign, which passed a Constitutional Amendment in 2018. Because the structure and operation of the medical marijuana program was dictated by this Constitutional Amendment, and couldn't be changed by Missouri lawmakers, there was little Governor Parson could do to fix the mess.

In December 2021, Governor Parson was interviewed by St. Louis Public Radio, saying "...he would 'much rather have the legislators have that discussion out here and see if there is a solution to have one way or the other than doing the ballot initiative. I haven’t changed my opinion on that. I probably agree with you that if it got on the ballot, it’s probably going to pass. … I think there’s a reason that people get sent up to the legislative branches. You get sent up here to make tough decisions. And when you don’t make decisions, that’s why these ballot initiatives kick in.'”

Because of Governor Parson's call on the Missouri General Assembly to deal with the recreational marijuana issue, Representative Ron Hicks filed House Bill 2704, the Cannabis Freedom Act, in February 2022.

Unfortunately, Missouri's medical marijuana industry, led by the corrupt Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association (MOCannTrade) spent tens of thousands of dollars to oppose Missouri's elected representatives from taking action on the Cannabis Freedom Act. MOCannTrade leadership came to Jefferson City to defend their corrupt monopoly, lying to lawmakers and doing everything they could to ensure the Cannabis Freedom Act didn't pass. Tommy Robbins, lobbyist for MOCannTrade and the ballot initiative campaign Legal Missouri 2022, even mocked the hundreds of ordinary Missourians who came to the Capitol to testify and advocate for the Cannabis Freedom Act, calling them the "clowncar". Ultimately, the General Assembly convened for the year without taking final action on the Cannabis Freedom Act.

On August 9, the MOCannTrade/Legal Missouri 2022 Amendment 3 was approved by Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft for the November ballot. Since then, dozens of news articles have detailed the significant controversy within the marijuana activist community over the Amendment 3 proposals to create new marijuana possession and use penalties in the Missouri Constitution and monopolize the recreational marijuana market for the corrupt MOCannTrade insiders.

Missouri's #1 Black Newspaper, the St. Louis American, has had possibly the strongest opposition. In an opinion editorial August 20, the St. Louis American editorial board called Amendment 3 "racist" and said "Amendment 3 is perhaps one of the worst recreational cannabis laws that our state could possibly pass." The St. Louis American concluded that:

An informed electorate knows that since constitutional amendments are difficult to rescind, it is very important to reject Amendment 3. Missouri voters have waited a long time to weigh in on recreational marijuana legislation but they should also remember that there can be an opportunity for better, more equitable recreational marijuana legislation in the future if Amendment 3 is stopped.

It appears Governor Parson has heard the concerns of Missourians about the corruption and racism inherent in Amendment 3. This week, the Governor was asked about his opinion on Amendment 3 and responded:

“I think that thing is a disaster...I think even people that support that issue will probably be hesitant when it comes to this, but I think that thing could be a real trap. I think if you’re going to do it, do something where people can understand it....”

The next day, Governor Parson told KMOX that:

"There's a lot of people who think, 'hey if I vote for this, we're gonna legalize marijuana.' But what they don't, I'm not sure everyone understands they're going to be doing more for the corporations behind marijuana and for the business side of it, than you ever are for yourself," Parson tells KMOX. The Governor says if Missouri is going to make it legal, it should be legal for the everyday person to grow marijuana in their yard, and not just for corporations to get permission to grow it and make money off people.

We are grateful to Governor Parson for hearing the voices of many Missourians concerned about the corruption of Amendment 3.

You can make a difference! At the Governor's website,, you can email or call his office. Let Governor Parson know you stand with him to advance marijuana legalization in the way that's right for Missouri and share your views on what legalization should look like.

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