JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Dec. 12, 2017) – A Missouri bill pre-filed for introduction in the 2018 legislative session would legalize marijuana for recreational use. Passage would take a big step toward nullifying federal cannabis prohibition in practice in the Show Me State.

Rep. Karla May (D-St. Louis) pre-filed House Bill 1448 (HB1448) on Dec. 4. The legislation would legalize marijuana under a tax-and-regulate system enforced at the state level similar to alcohol. Under the proposed law, a Missouri resident who is at least the age of 21 could legally possess up to 35 grams of marijuana without any criminal violations. HB1448 would legalize the following:

(1) Possessing, using, displaying, purchasing, or transporting marijuana accessories or thirty-five grams or less of marijuana;

(2) Possessing, growing, processing, or transporting no more than six marijuana plants, with three or fewer being mature, flowering plants, and possession of the marijuana produced by the plants on the premises where the plants were grown, provided that the growing takes place in an enclosed, locked space; is not conducted openly or publicly; and is not made available for sale;

(3) Transfer of thirty-five grams or less of marijuana without remuneration to a person who is twenty-one years of age or older;

(4) Consumption of marijuana, provided that nothing… shall permit consumption that is conducted openly and publicly or in a manner that endangers others; or

(5) Assisting another person who is twenty-one years of age or older in any of the acts [listed above].

The bill would also specifically prohibit the state from seizing assets from individuals who manufacture, possess, transport or sell marijuana products as long as they abide by the regulations established by the law.

If HB1448 passes, Missouri could be the first state to legalize recreational marijuana through the state legislature rather than the ballot initiative process.

Despite the federal prohibition on marijuana, measures such as HB1448 remain perfectly constitutional, and the feds can do little if anything to stop them in practice.


Under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970 the federal government maintains complete prohibition of marijuana. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate cannabis within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.

Legalization of marijuana in Missouri would remove a layer of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana, but federal prohibition will remain on the books.

FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By mostly ending state prohibition, Missouri would essentially sweep away most of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.

Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly-budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.


Missouri could join a growing number simply ignoring federal marijuana prohibition, and nullifying it in practice. Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska were the first states to legalized recreational cannabis, California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts joined them after ballot initiatives in favor of legalization passed last year.

With more than two-dozen states allowing cannabis for medical use as well, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition anymore.

“The lesson here is pretty straightforward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats,” Tenth Amendment Center founder and executive director Michael Boldin said.


HB1448 will not be formally introduced until the next legislative session convenes in 2018. At that time, it will be assigned to a committee where it will need to pass by a majority vote before moving forward in the legislative process

The 10th Amendment

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