Organization stops in Hannibal to discuss legalizing marijuana
Two states have already legalized marijuana for recreational use, but could Missouri soon follow? Monday night, a group called Show-Me-Cannabis made its way to Hannibal to have a discussion on why they're pushing to legalize pot in Missouri.
The organization has already held dozens of meetings across the state talking about why they're pushing to lift the ban on the controversial drug. In Hannibal, there's still plenty to debate over whether Missouri should follow Colorado and Washington's lead.
It was standing room only inside the Hannibal public library as people came to hear the arguments for legalizing marijuana. Executive Director of Show-Me-Cannabis John Payne addressed the crowd on the benefits of legalizing the drug, and said one of them is an economic boost for the state.
"The Secretary of State, when we turned in our initiatives for 2014, they estimated that the state of Missouri could have $217 million in new revenues," Payne said. While the majority of people in the room were in favor of legalizing the drug, the decision isn't unanimous among those in the community.
"I think it should be legal. I think it should be legal everywhere. I don't think the government has the right to decide between grown adults whether something should be legal or illegal," Hannibal business owner Judy Kleinman said.
However, those like Robert Vandelicht disagree.
"I mean they want them to legalize it and make it available but why?" he asked. "Instead of asking why we shouldn't why should we? I see problems right now with people driving while they're intoxicated. If you give them marijuana as well, are we going to see more of that with driving and more accidents."
Others like Matt Karnes would like to see the state take baby steps instead of one giant leap into full legal use.
"Personally I think medical marijuana should be legal for sure and recreational perhaps later on," Karnes said.
Payne said despite the negative associations with smoking marijuana, it will end up being safer for Missourians if voters decided to legalize marijuana.
"This is simply a better system that will keep Missouri safer by letting us focus our law enforcement resources on what is truly important and not misdemeanor marijuana offenses," he said.
Payne says the plan is to put the issue on the ballot in 2016.