JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Marijuana legalization in Missouri takes effect Thursday, capping a 50-year effort to end prohibition and allowing individuals to legally possess 3 ounces or less of marijuana flower.
Consumers — defined as individuals 21 and older — may legally possess marijuana starting Thursday, but legal sales of marijuana at state-licensed dispensaries won't start immediately, according to the Department of Health and Senior Services.
Medical marijuana dispensaries will be able to apply to "convert" their licenses to comprehensive ones starting Thursday. But Lisa Cox, spokeswoman for DHSS, has said the state won't begin the process of converting those licenses until regulations are filed.
The state will be forced to take action on conversion requests submitted Thursday by Feb. 6. Cox has said once the requests are approved, the state anticipates that dispensaries will be able to open their doors to everyone 21 and older.
John Payne, campaign manager for Legal Missouri 2022, said marijuana sales are only allowed "within the regulated system," but he said simple possession will be legal starting Thursday.
"The decriminalization aspects do not hinge on licensed sales existing," he said.
The state's more than 200,000 medical marijuana patients will be able to buy more marijuana starting Thursday.
The constitutional amendment increases patients' monthly allowance from 4 ounces to 6 ounces, Cox said. And, the constitutional amendment allows patients to renew their cards every three years, rather than every year.
"Patient applications processed as of this date (Dec. 8) and forward will be valid for three years," Cox said. "Current ID holders will retain their existing expiration dates, which will not change due to Amendment 3 passing."
Marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, despite 21 states choosing to legalize its recreational use.