JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Dec. 12, 2022) – It is now legal for adults to possess marijuana in the state of Missouri despite ongoing federal cannabis prohibition.

In November, Missouri voters approved a state constitutional amendment legalizing marijuana for adult use by a 53 to 47 percent margin. Under Amendment 3, the possession of up to three ounces of marijuana by people 21 and over became legal on Thursday, Dec. 8. Individuals can also grow up to six flowering plants, six immature plants and six clones.

The amendment creates a licensing and regulatory scheme for retail sales, but it will take a while for sales at state-licensed dispensaries to begin. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Medical marijuana dispensaries were able to apply to “convert” their medical marijuana licenses to retail licenses starting Thursday. The state is required to act on those conversion requests by Feb. 6, 2023.

The amendment also raised the allowable amount of cannabis for medical marijuana patients from four to six ounces. That change also went into effect Thursday.

The Amendment includes provisions to create a program that will automatically review and expunge criminal records relating to non-violent marijuana-related offenses. Legal Missouri 2022 collected over 385,000 signatures to place the constitutional amendment on the ballot.

Marijuana won’t be allowed everyplace in Missouri. In a press release, the University of Missouri system announced marijuana will not be allowed on any of its four campuses due to federal law.

“Following a review of the federal Drug-Free Schools and Community Act and Drug-Free Workplace Act, the University of Missouri System will continue to prohibit the possession, use and distribution of marijuana on any university property, university-leased property and as part of university-sponsored or university-supervised activities.”

All of this is illegal according to the federal government and creates an environment for the people of Missouri to further nullify the unconstitutional federal prohibition in practice and effect.


Under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970, the federal government maintains a 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.

The legalization of medical marijuana in Missouri in 2018 removed one layer of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana in the Show-Me State even though federal prohibition remains in effect. The legalization of adult-use marijuana erases more state prohibition laws from the books. This is significant because FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. When states stop enforcing marijuana laws, they 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.


Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska were the first states to legalize recreational cannabis, and California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts joined them after ballot initiatives in favor of legalization passed in November 2016. Michigan followed suit when voters legalized cannabis for general use in 2018. Vermont became the first state to legalize marijuana through a legislative act in 2018. Illinois followed suit in 2019. New Jersey, Montana and Arizona all legalized recreational marijuana through ballot measures in the 2020 election. In 2021, New YorkNew MexicoVirginia and Connecticut legalized marijuana through legislative action, and Rhode Island legalized cannabis for adult use in 2022. With Missouri and Maryland legalizing marijuana in November, there are now 37 states allowing cannabis for medical use, and 21 legalizing for adult recreational use.

The lesson here is pretty straightforward. As Tenth Amendment Center Executive Director Michael Boldin noted, “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.”

Mike Maharrey

The 10th Amendment

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