Missourians Vote to Legalize Marijuana in a Close Race


Elevate Missouri harvests 250 pounds of marijuana per week. The company held a watch party in anticipation for the outcome of Amendment 3.

Breanne Blankenship, Editor-in-Chief

  Employees from the medical marijuana company Elevate Missouri waited patiently for ballots across the state to be counted, lighters at the ready. 

  Releasing their breath at around 1:50 a.m., Missouri is now the 20th state to legalize adult use of recreational marijuana and people are looking to the future.

  “We’re going to be looking towards what adult use is gonna look like and make some decisions on where we want to allocate new labor resources,” said Chris Issinghoff, Elevate Missouri’s director of operations.

  There was no lack of pre-celebration, as a particular smell seemed to hang around the event, and though it was a little chilly, the patio seemed to be the place to gather.

  Awaiting the decision kept the partygoers on edge as the votes were quite evenly split into the late night.

  With approximately 50% of the votes counted, the decision sat at 50.9% “yes” and 49.1% “no”. These numbers were deemed too close for comfort by some employees. 

  In the end, the amendment received 1,086,776 votes in favor and 958,427 votes against it after 88% of the results were recorded.

  The passing of the amendment legalizes marijuana use for adults over the age of 21 and creates a licensing system for potential sellers and growers. 

  Amendment 3 also allows criminal record expungement for people with non-violent pot charges. 

  Some students at UMKC are glad to see the amendment pass and plan to celebrate Missouri voters’ decisions. 

  “It’s nice to smoke knowing I won’t get ridiculed for it now,” said 22-year-old student Sullivan Nevins. “Now my smoke is just as accepted as any other smoke.”

  The close decision comes after Amendment 3 divided advocates for legalization, who raised concerns about the now-passed initiative.

  Groups such as Missouri NAACP and Tim Gilio of the Missouri Marijuana Legalization Movement argued the amendment gives established marijuana companies an unfair advantage over potential small business owners from marginalized communities.

  “Let’s start at legal,” Justice Gatson, founder of the Reale Justice Network, told The Kansas City Star. “And if there’s something that needs to be done, to make it stronger, to make it better, at least we’ve started at legal,” Gaston said.

  Gaston’s company is a Kansas City grassroots organization focused on social justice reform and pushed for the amendment to pass.

  Missourians can expect recreational marijuana retail sales to start on Feb. 6, 2023, at the very earliest.