In a position paper released Thursday, the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (MAPA) urged voters to reject the constitutional amendment to legalize cannabis in the state. The organization argues that if the amendment is approved, the state’s courts would be required to allow people to continue using cannabis even if they are involved in fatal accidents while driving under the influence.
In the paper, MAPA cites a September 2021 Rocky Mountain High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area report which claims that since adult-use cannabis legalization was legalized in 2013 in Colorado, traffic deaths in the state in which drivers tested positive for cannabis increased by 138%. MAPA says that under the amendment courts would be barred from prohibiting cannabis use by drivers involved in fatal accidents and by those on probation and parole.
“Under Amendment 3, our legislature could not even set a maximum limit for marijuana in the bloodstream, while Colorado does. Amendment 3 is dangerous and makes drugged driving tougher to prosecute than drunk driving.” — MAPA, Amendment 3 Legalizing Recreational Marijuana Dangerous for Missouri
The organization describes the proposal as “more than thirty pages of mischief” and alleges that it fails to protect “children from dealers in black market marijuana.
“While a person under 21 is not to possess recreational marijuana, a dealer can give or sell to middle schoolers and face only a ‘civil penalty’ of $100,” the organization alleges. “Prosecutors do not enforce civil penalties. Amendment 3 is silent on who would. Parents may be responsible for suing violators for this ‘civil penalty.’ This is not a deterrent. It is an incentive to ignore the safety of our kids.”
MAPA says that because the reforms are a constitutional amendment any changes to the law could only be made in a presidential election year with 60% of voter support.
In a statement to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, John Payne, campaign manager for Legal Missouri 2022, pushed back against the claims that selling or giving cannabis to children would only be met with a civil penalty were the amendment approved, and that it would effectively legalize driving while under the influence of cannabis.
“Under Amendment 3, both driving under the influence of marijuana and selling marijuana outside the regulatory system remain illegal,” he said, adding that individuals who sold cannabis to middle schoolers would still face felony drug charges under Missouri law.
“Amendment 3 creates a thorough system of regulation,” he said, “which will protect public health and safety far better than our current illicit and unregulated system.”
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