As the state’s billion-dollar cannabis market continues to flourish, its effects extend beyond the industry itself. From a significant decrease in marijuana-related arrests to the expungement of prior cannabis convictions and the generation of substantial tax revenue, Missouri’s green rush is transforming lives and communities alike. However, challenges and concerns persist, requiring continued collaboration among law enforcement agencies, policymakers, and community organizations.
Amendment 3 Ushers in Recreational Marijuana and Job Growth
Missouri voters approved recreational marijuana use through a constitutional amendment called Amendment 3. This has led to a surge in cannabis-related jobs, with the number of state-approved licenses for new employees quadrupling since November. Anyone working in the industry must get an “agent ID badge” through the state, which includes a background check.
Missouri has become the “darling” of the cannabis industry, with sales reaching $102.9 million in the first month ($72 million for recreational marijuana). Sloane Barbour, the CEO of Engin, suggests that Missouri is on track to become a billion-dollar market, comparing it to Michigan, Illinois, and Massachusetts, which employ between 30,000 and 50,000 workers in the cannabis industry.
Demand for Cannabis Jobs Skyrockets
Christy Essex, the founder of Se7en Staffing & Employment Solutions, the largest Missouri-based cannabis staffing company, predicts job growth will continue throughout the year. With dispensaries struggling to keep shelves stocked, companies are hiring temporary employees for short-term projects. By the end of February 2023, 12,970 individuals had marijuana agent IDs, up from 10,100 at the end of November.
Cannabis Specialist Brings Edible Expertise to Missouri
Marcus Kerr, a food truck entrepreneur turned cannabis specialist, has joined the Luxury Leaf Cannabis Dispensary team in St. Louis, Missouri. After a successful stint in California creating edible cannabis recipes, Kerr is excited to contribute to the growing recreational marijuana scene in Missouri. With a rich Jamaican heritage, Kerr jokes that cannabis is “in [his] DNA.”
Legislative Hurdles: Fingerprinting and Background Checks
A bill making its way through the state legislature would require fingerprinting as part of background checks for all employees. The bill has already passed the state Senate and is expected to have an easy path in the House. Essex, who has been in workforce development since 2014, helps train employees at all levels and educates people about background checks, which many individuals fear due to misconceptions about misdemeanor records.
Background check requirements vary among states, with California only requiring fingerprint-based criminal background checks for owners and Arizona requiring them for all employees, board members, owners, and volunteers. The Cole Memo, issued in 2013 by then-U.S. Deputy Attorney General James Cole, offers guidelines for states legalizing medical marijuana, including background checks to prevent organized crime from entering the marijuana business.
Fingerprinting Controversy in Missouri’s Cannabis Industry
The current law in Missouri, Amendment 3, only requires fingerprint-based background checks for owners, but a measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer would revert back to the original fingerprinting process before Amendment 3. This has the support of the Missouri Cannabis Trade Association. Essex expressed concern over the availability of fingerprinting vendors to keep pace with employee demand if the measure is implemented.
Cannabis Crime In Missouri: A Look at the Impact on Communities
As we explore the decrease in marijuana-related arrests, expungement of prior convictions, and effects on public health and safety, we must also address the remaining challenges and concerns. Gain insights into how the state’s green rush is transforming lives and communities while addressing potential obstacles along the way.
Decrease in Marijuana-Related Arrests
Since the legalization of medical marijuana in Missouri in 2018, there has been a significant decrease in marijuana-related arrests. According to a report from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), marijuana possession arrests in the state decreased by 46% between 2010 and 2018. In addition, the legalization of recreational marijuana through Amendment 3 is expected to further reduce the number of arrests, easing the burden on law enforcement and the judicial system.
Expungement of Prior Cannabis Convictions
Missouri has made provisions to expunge certain cannabis convictions, allowing individuals with non-violent, marijuana-related offenses to clear their records. This has a direct impact on communities, as it enables people with prior convictions to access better job opportunities, housing, and education, improving their overall quality of life.
Impact on Public Health and Safety
It is still early to draw definitive conclusions about the long-term impact of cannabis legalization on public health and safety in Missouri. However, preliminary data from other states suggests that the fears of increased crime and substance abuse have not materialized. According to a study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, there has been no significant increase in youth cannabis use in states where marijuana has been legalized. Additionally, a study from Colorado State University found no correlation between the legalization of recreational marijuana and an increase in violent crime.
Tax Revenue and Community Investment
Legalization has also generated substantial tax revenue for Missouri, which can be used to fund various programs and initiatives to improve public safety, education, and healthcare. For example, a portion of the revenue generated from marijuana sales is allocated to the Missouri Veterans Commission, which supports veterans and their families. Moreover, the state can also utilize tax revenue to fund drug prevention and treatment programs, as well as invest in community development projects.
Challenges and Concerns
Despite the positive impacts of cannabis legalization, there are still concerns about the potential for an increase in drugged driving incidents and the accessibility of marijuana to underage individuals. Law enforcement agencies, policymakers, and community organizations must continue to work together to address these challenges and ensure that the benefits of cannabis legalization are felt across all communities in Missouri.
Missouri’s cannabis industry has experienced rapid growth and expansion following the approval of Amendment 3, leading to an increase in job opportunities and positive changes within communities.
While the state enjoys the benefits of reduced marijuana-related arrests, expungement of prior convictions, and increased tax revenue, it also faces challenges and concerns, such as the legislative complexities surrounding background checks and fingerprinting.
As the industry continues to evolve, it’s crucial for all stakeholders, including law enforcement, policymakers, and community organizations, to work together to ensure that the positive impacts of cannabis legalization are maximized, and potential issues are effectively addressed.