‘Cannabis Freedom Act’ introduced in Missouri House

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri State Representative Ron Hicks (R-St. Charles) Tuesday filed House Bill 2704, the “Cannabis Freedom Act”, an omnibus marijuana legalization bill that legalizes marijuana for adult use, releases all non-violent marijuana offenders, creates a protocol for individuals to expunge prior marijuana offenses, allows individuals on probation or parole to legally use marijuana, creates a tax deduction for those denied marijuana licenses in Missouri’s medical marijuana program in the amount of application fees paid to the state, creates a tax deduction for marijuana business operators who can’t deduct business expenses from federal taxation, creates protections for banks doing business with legal marijuana businesses, and allows hospitality operators, including bars, restaurants, and lodging establishments to provide legal marijuana consumption spaces.


Representative Hicks stated, “The Cannabis Freedom Act is the product of input from many different stakeholders including members of law enforcement and those who have endured incarceration for conduct that society now deems acceptable. I am particularly grateful for input from Oklahoma State Representative Scott Fetgatter (R-Okmulgee) for his assistance in creating a free market program that is also strictly regulated.”


Oklahoma St. Rep. Scott Fetgatter said, “Because the federal government has not yet ended the prohibition on marijuana, states are in a difficult position. States with strict license caps are burdened by the significant appearance of corruption, which undermines the rule of law. On the other hand, unrestricted free markets cannot exist without federal marijuana reform. I am proud to work with Rep. Hicks to share with him the conservative solutions that allow us to protect our free market values and provide a viable framework for legal marijuana at the state level.”


Missouri State Representative Michael Johnson (D-Kansas City) said, “The Cannabis Freedom Act will put Missouri into the forefront of the evolving national conversation on ending marijuana prohibition. From the offender release and expungement protocols to the opportunity for our hospitality sector to the potential to give our farmers more options in the market, this proposal is the right thing at the right time for our state.”


Christina Thompson of Show Me Canna Freedom said, “The Cannabis Freedom Act represents a true end to marijuana prohibition in Missouri and everyone in the cannabis community needs to rally behind it. Instead of the corrupt monopoly Legal Missouri 2022 is trying to create, The Cannabis Freedom Act provides a fair, open market that every Missourian can participate in. The cannabis community desperately needs this piece of legislation, and I’m hopeful that our lawmakers will understand just how vital it is that this passes.”


Former Rolla City Councilman and Navy Veteran Daniel Jones said, “I am heartened to see that the Cannabis Freedom Act contains full release and expungement protocols for marijuana only offenders. The passage of this proposal will represent a historic victory for civil rights and individual liberty in America.”


Dre Taylor of Nile Valley Aquaponics in Kansas City said, “I am grateful that Missouri Governor Mike Parson has called on the Missouri General Assembly to do the hard work of figuring out how to get marijuana legalization right for our state. The Cannabis Freedom Act would right many historic injustices, and particularly the harms of the unfair and arbitrary medical marijuana licensing scheme created by ballot initiative in 2018.”


New Haven Police Chief Chris Hammann and former Carter County prosecutor Rocky Kingree said in a joint statement: “Law enforcement does not need to be tasked with the thankless job of marijuana prohibition anymore and the Cannabis Freedom Act allows for the reparative justice actions that will continue the work of repairing the relationship and trust between the government and its citizens.”


Steve Stegall, owner of the Blue Line Hockey Bar in Kansas City, said, “The Cannabis Freedom Act creates a regulated space for hospitality operators including lodging, bars, restaurants, and caterers to create safe marijuana consumption spaces. This is a welcome proposal at a time where the hospitality industry is facing unprecedented challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. If enacted, this legislation will provide new revenue opportunities to the more than 300,000 Missourians employed in the hospitality industry.”