Missouri’s Cannabis Freedom Act

Written by Mark Pedersen

Written by Mark Pedersen

February 19, 2022

House Bill 2704

Mark Pedersen’s Critique of “Rough Draft No. 2

No doubt, I will receive complaints regarding the length of this critique. Understand that House Bill 2704 is over 129 pages in length. I think I did a damn good job in keeping this critique as concise as it is. The Cannabis portion of this “act” begins roughly eight pages into this monstrosity. I use the word “monstrosity” because of the sheer glut of this act.
Making legislation unnecessarily huge is actually a very old ploy used by lawmakers when they are looking to hide something. If you don’t want the masses to pay close attention to what you are trying to make law, just overwhelm them with a massive amount of senselessly, tedious rhetoric.

Let there be no mistake regarding the purpose for this bill… And that being, “Industry Building”, plain and simple.
It’s very obvious that State Representative Ron Hicks (R-St. Charles), the writer of this document, had a personal interest in establishing a “pot industry”, with little concern for his constituents. It’s evident that he sought to justify his bill by pasting into it lines from my earlier initiatives as a means to justify this mess, but the primary purpose still remains quite glaring.

My personal definition of a “pot industry” is one that is created purely for short term profit, with little concern for the average personal consumer and patient. A “pot industry”, as opposed to a “Cannabis market” is “parasitical”, rather than “therapeutic”. As it has been demonstrated in California and Colorado, when the emphasis is placed on profits over consumers, the result encourages a black market and forces the very ones for whom these programs were designed to suffer needlessly.

As a House Bill, citizenry have very little control over legislation like this. That’s why I have concentrated on Initiatives, because they are the only way that the citizens of our state can directly effect state policy. With House and senate bills, though constituents can voice concerns, the authors, elected state lawmakers, have the sole authority and responsibility for its content and passing.

For much of the beginning of this House Bill, it addresses accounting matters for businesses in general. I’m not an accountant, so I can’t sound in on the validity of that portion. Of course, it makes little sense lumping accounting in with a Cannabis reform bill, apart, of course, from the reason that I have already stated.

There are a few Cannabis references scattered throughout the first 60 pages or so… mostly clerical changes. “Definitions” have not been confined to a particular area, but instead, mixed in with most every section of the document. On page 10, we see the beginning of statements regarding business licenses and refunds via income tax deductions, in particular, for rejected Cannabis business licenses.

Automatic Sunset
Long about page 12, we see statements regarding the “automatic sunset rule. Statements like this should be of particular interest to EVERYONE involved with Cannabis, personal or business. An automatic sunset rule basically sets a time limit on a piece of legislation. If it is not renewed, eventually the legislation will expire, not a good thing for people who rely on Cannabis for medicine or those who have invested a great deal in a dispensary or cultivation facility.

On the same page you’ll find perhaps the single most important lines, literally taken right from the “Cannabis Restoration” initiative”:

195.006. Notwithstanding any provision under this chapter or any other provision of law, beginning August 28, 2022, marijuana shall no longer be listed among Missouri’s drug schedules and shall no longer be considered a controlled substance or a drug.

As I have stated for the last ten years, there is literally nothing more important for Cannabis reform than removing Cannabis from our state’s “Controlled Substance List”.  By removing Cannabis from the CSL, it is no longer considered a “controlled substance”, and now, a food, which makes much of the rest of this bill so confusing and ultimately dangerous for the Cannabis consumer.

As is the case with the Federal Cannabis Bill, the “MORE Act”, Rep. Hicks didn’t just stop with removing Cannabis from the CSL. He went on to reassign much of the same prohibitionist statements and penalties as Cannabis endured as a Schedule I. Not only does this defeat the whole purpose of removing it from this list, it puts in jeopardy ALL non-Cannabis, non-toxic food and food products. Imagine putting restrictive rules regarding possession and consumption of other foods like spinach or carrots.

Apart from the obvious “industry building”, much of this document just reaffirms rules that were already in place, as is the case with 195.815, which references fingerprinting for employees of Cannabis businesses.

196.1173 references the creation of the “Cannabinoid Product Labeling Act”. Sounds like a good thing, doesn’t it?. It should. This is one of the points that was inserted into this bill to entice a positive reaction. Of course, this section shouldn’t be necessary since Cannabis as a food would fall under the protection and control of the Food and Drug Administration.

A line that I found particularly troubling:

3. The general assembly hereby occupies and preempts the entire field of regulating cannabinoid oil products as provided in this section to the complete exclusion of any order, ordinance, or regulation by any political subdivision of this state. Any existing or future orders, ordinances, or regulations relating to cannabinoid oil products as provided in this section are hereby void.

196.3000 affirms that “196.300 to 196.3048 shall be known and may be cited as the “Cannabis freedom act”. It goes on to state that a “Consumer”, is “a person twenty-one years of age or older who purchases marijuana, marijuana products, or marijuana accessories for personal use but not for resale to others;”

So Cannabis consumers are only those who are over twenty-one and PURCHASE marijuana??

…and Hicks goes on to say:

“Marijuana” shall not include industrial hemp, nor shall it include fiber produced from the stalks, oil, or cake made from the seeds of the plant;”

(Truth be known, marijuana is just a slang term for Cannabis. Industrial hemp IS Cannabis.)

196.3006 delves into three areas that I feel quite strongly about, “employment”, “driving (DUI)”and “age restrictions”.

196.3006. Employer (not employee) Rights.

(This legislation) Shall not:

(1) Restrict the rights of employers to maintain a drug-and alcohol-free workplace or affect the ability of employers to enact workplace policies restricting the use of marijuana or marijuana products by employees or prospective employees;
Require an employer to allow or accommodate the use, consumption, possession, transfer, display,
transportation, sale, or cultivation of marijuana or marijuana products in a place of employment;

Driving while impaired (in other words, THC identified in a drug test).

(This legislation) Shall not:

Allow driving, flying, or boating while impaired by marijuana or marijuana products or prevent this
state from enacting and imposing penalties for driving, flying, or boating while impaired by marijuana
or marijuana products;

I’m sure many of you already know that Cannabinoids can show up in a drug test days, even weeks after consumption, long after any “impairment”. If laws like this were enforced, conservably 25% of the population would not be able to drive a vehicle.

Age Limits

(This legislation) Shall not:

(4) Allow individuals who are under twenty-one years of age to purchase, possess, transport, or consume marijuana or marijuana products;
(5) Allow the sale, transfer, or provision of marijuana or marijuana products to individuals who are under
twenty-one years of age;

Later in the document, the author does state that children would have access but only under strict rules and supervision. More confusion and fear for the parents of children battling chronic and terminal illness.

Employers, Schools, Healthcare Facilities, Landlords

(This legislation) Shall not:

(6) Restrict the rights of employers, schools, day care centers, adult care facilities, health care facilities, or correctional facilities to prohibit or regulate conduct otherwise allowed under sections 196.3000 to 196.3048 if such conduct occurs on or in properties listed under this subdivision; Restrict the ability of an individual, partnership, limited liability company, private corporation, private entity, or private organization of any character that occupies, owns, or controls property to prohibit or regulate conduct otherwise allowed in this section on or in such property;

Regarding Federal Law

(This legislation) Shall not:

(9) Require a person to violate federal law or to implement or fail to implement a restriction on the
possession, consumption, displaying, transferring, processing, manufacturing, or cultivation of
marijuana if by doing so the person will lose a monetary or licensing-related benefit under federal
law.

Understand that Cannabis is illegal under Federal law. So this line in reality gives employers the right to treat Cannabis consumers however they so choose. They can hire or fire at will. They can rest assured that their prejudices and wrongful thinking will not be disrupted by having to do the right and honorable thing.

Here’s another taken straight, word for word, from “Cannabis Restoration”:

2. The use or possession of marijuana shall in no way impede on a person’s legal right to possess a firearm.

This bill does seem to allow “gifting”, as long as their is no payment involved, and the recipient has a medical card.

196.3012. Notwithstanding any provision of law, it shall be lawful for a person twenty-one years of age or
older, or an emancipated individual under twenty-one years of age with a physician’s recommendation
authorizing the use of marijuana, to transfer or gift marijuana in any form including, but not limited to,
plant material, seeds, extract, or concentrate, to another adult twenty-one years of age or older, or to
another emancipated individual under twenty-one years of age with a physician’s recommendation
authorizing the use of marijuana, provided no compensation of any kind is given or received; however,
nothing in this section shall be construed to permit the transfer or gifting of marijuana to a person under
twenty-one years of age, if such person has a physician’s recommendation authorizing the use of
marijuana, by anyone other than such person’s legal guardian, under and in accordance with the
provisions governing the medically authorized administration of marijuana to a person under
twenty-one years of age.

Zoning 196.3015 is pasted almost verbatim from “Cannabis Restoration”,

196.3015. Marijuana farmers, manufacturers, processors, and distributors shall not be subject to any
special zoning requirement or licensing fee that is excessive, discriminatory, prohibitive, or in any way
contrary to that which is relative to any other commercial or agricultural farmer, manufacturer, processor,
or distributor.

196.3018 is yet again copied from “Cannabis Restoration”,

196.3018. 1. No Missouri law enforcement personnel or state funds shall be used to assist or aid in the
enforcement of federal marijuana laws involving acts that are no longer illegal in the state of Missouri
under sections 196.3000 to 196.3048.

It goes on to quote me regarding asset or civil forfeiture,

2. Asset or civil forfeiture shall no longer be used in the state of Missouri in association with legal
marijuana cultivation, use, sale, or possession.

Asset and civil forfeiture is literally legal armed robbery. Law enforcement can take your home, cars,
cash – anything they wish – without even charging you with a crime. Civil forfeiture amounts to over
a 13 billion dollar windfall for law enforcement annually.

Then what follows references expungement of nonviolent Cannabis convictions, again, taken from
“Cannabis Restoration”, but, unfortunately, with conditions,

3. As provided under section 610.135, Missouri’s courts shall expunge conviction records of offenses
or municipal violations pertaining to nonviolent marijuana-related offenses or violations that are no
longer illegal in the state of Missouri under sections 196.3000 to 196.3048.

If this section ended there, it would have been fine. Unfortunately, it did not. This section went on to
require a defendant to petition the court and wait, at the mercy of the court for an outcome.

12% Excise Tax
196.3021 deals with the installment of a 12% excise tax. It also reinstates the much maligned “stamp act”.
If you had read any of my earlier writings on excise taxes you would know that they are nothing more

than “sin taxes”.

196.3021. 1. A tax shall be levied upon the sale of marijuana or marijuana products to consumers or
buyers not licensed for resale at a rate not to exceed twelve percent. The department of revenue shall
direct the authority to establish procedures for the collection of all taxes levied. The tax shall be evidenced
by stamps that shall be furnished by and purchased from the department of revenue, and the department
of revenue shall enforce any such tax in a manner similar to taxes levied on cigarettes under chapter 149.

Here’s another one, taken straight from “Cannabis Restoration”,

5. Any sale of marijuana for medical use shall not be subject to taxation under this section.

196.3027 establishes a “Cannabis Enforcement Authority” (frightening), setting in stone “state oversight
and auditing” authority.

196.3027. 1. There is hereby established the “Cannabis Enforcement Authority” under the department.
The authority shall have oversight and auditing responsibilities to ensure that all marijuana being grown
in Missouri for personal use is accounted for 196.3030. 1. There is hereby created the marijuana business
license, which shall include applications for the following categories:

(1) Marijuana commercial growers;
(2) Marijuana processors;
(3) Marijuana retailers;
(4) Marijuana sellers; and
(5) Marijuana transporters, as provided under section 9 196.3032.

This bill eliminates ALL LIMITS on the number of marijuana licenses or categories that an individual or
entity can apply for or receive. There’s been quite an uproar over this issue ever since Missouri’s Cannabis
program came into being. Rather curious that Hicks would include this.

196.3039 addresses the creation of a “hospitality business license”.

196.3039. 1. The authority shall by rule create a statewide hospitality business license that allows a
business including, but not limited to, a lodge establishment as defined under section 315.005, bar, or
restaurant, to sell marijuana or marijuana 5 products for consumption on the premises or a catering
business to 6 sell marijuana or marijuana products at a private event.

This bill goes into considerable depth regarding the water consumption of a Cannabis grow facility.

This bill permits licensed marijuana processors, “for a price to process Cannabis into concentrates
for medical marijuana patients or adult-use growers”.

I think this is a worthwhile service, as long as the state does not forbid patients from producing their
own concentrates.

This bill appoints twelve Missouri residents to the “Marijuana Advisory Council”, made up of “marijuana industry experts”,

I think you can be assured that their “experts” will always consider the welfare of the “industry” over private users.

This bill creates the “Cannabis Freedom Fund”.

196.3045. 1. There is hereby created in the state treasury the “Cannabis Freedom Fund”, which shall
consist of moneys collected under sections 196.3021 and 196.3030, subsection of section 196.3032,
and subsection of section 196.3039. The state treasurer shall be custodian of the fund.

Then there were pages and pages regarding banking….

Family court

2. A family court participant shall not be required to refrain from using or consuming marijuana or
marijuana products in accordance with sections 196.3000 to 196.3048 or medical marijuana in
accordance with Article XIV, Section 1 of the Constitution of Missouri as a term or condition of successful
completion of the 10    family court program.

Police search of a motor vehicle or personal residence

544.186. Notwithstanding any provision of law, the odor of marijuana alone shall not provide a law
enforcement officer with probable cause to conduct a warrantless search of a motor vehicle, home,
or other private property.

Warrantless searches of private residences are heavy-handed and unconstitutional, particularly when it’s
in regard to Cannabis use. Private property is almost always destroyed and often the disabled are
subjected to unnecessary rough treatment and trauma.

Expungement

Prior non-violent Cannabis convictions are addressed in more than one place in this document. Rep. Hicks’ take is not nearly as concise as that found in “Cannabis Restoration”. In order to even have a chance at having your records expunged, you’ll most certainly require the expense of an attorney. What’s more, under this plan you can expect it will require time off from work to make hearings on the matter. And most of all, you can expect it all to take time…lots and lots of time. In the end, whether or not you are granted an expungement rests in the hands of a judge.

557.059. 1. Any conviction, remaining sentence, ongoing supervision, or unpaid court-ordered restitution of
any person who on August 28, 2022, is or will be serving a sentence of incarceration, probation, parole, or
other form of community supervision as a result of the person’s conviction of an offense or municipal
violation involving a nonviolent marijuana-related offense or violation that was committed prior to
obtaining a patient identification card under Article XIV, Section 1 of the Constitution of Missouri, or prior
to the enactment of sections 196.3000 to 196.3048 if the person files a petition in the court in which
the person was convicted of the offense or violation.
2. If the court determines, after hearing, that a person has been issued a patient identification card
under Article XIV, Section 1 of the Constitution of Missouri or was convicted of an offense or municipal
violation that is no longer an offense or violation because of the enactment of sections 196.3000 to
196.3048, the offense or municipal violation is a nonviolent marijuana-related offense, and the offense
or municipal violation occurred within the state of Missouri prior to the issuance of the patient
identification card or the enactment of sections 196.3000 to 196.3048, the court shall enter an order
vacating the conviction, remaining sentence, ongoing supervision, or unpaid court-ordered restitution.

610.135. 1. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any person who was convicted of a nonviolent
marijuana-related offense or municipal violation prior to obtaining a patient identification card under
Article XIV, Section 1 of the Constitution of Missouri or prior to the enactment of sections 196.3000 to
196.3048 may petition the court to have the nonviolent marijuana-related offense or municipal
violation expunged so long as the offense or violation was prosecuted under the jurisdiction of a
Missouri associate circuit or circuit court or municipal court and all nonviolent marijuana-related
offenses are listed in the petition of expungement.

2. If the court determines, after hearing, that a person has been issued a patient identification card
or was convicted of a nonviolent marijuana-related offense or municipal violation that is no longer an
offense or violation because of the enactment of sections 196.3000 to 196.3048, the offense seeking
to be expunged is related to the nonviolent marijuana-related offense or 18   violation, and the
offense or violation occurred within the state 19 of Missouri, the court shall enter an order for
expungement.

A whole lot of words for granting so little. If only it all were truly real. Unfortunately, under the rules
of THIS bill, an “expungement” is not truly and “expungement”.

Upon the court’s granting the order of expungement under this section, the records and files
maintained in any court proceeding in an associate or a circuit division of the circuit court or in a
municipal court under this section shall be confidential and available only to the parties or by order
of the court for good cause shown.

So, in other words, Hick’s form of “expungement” is not expungement at all. Strange that he would
go on to say,

The effect of expungement under this section shall be to restore such person to the status he or
she occupied prior to such arrest, plea, or conviction and as if such event had never taken place.

Really?? If the records are not permanently destroyed, then the offense remains. So, what the author
is saying is that the state does not recognize that the defendant was wrongfully arrested and convicted.
THEIR form of “expungement” is merely a “political pacifier”.

Early on in my “policy writing career”, if you can call it that, I made the statement that, if you want to
know the REAL reason why someone would write a bill, look for a theme that carries through the whole
document. In the case of the so called “Cannabis Freedom Act”, you can rest assured that it has very
little to do with “freeing Cannabis” and everything to do with creating a very highly controlled and
selectively lucrative “pot” industry.

I can’t say that I didn’t expected this kind of offering from Missouri lawmakers. Representative Hicks has
proven himself to be no better than so many other Missouri lawmakers that I have known over the last
ten years, apparently completely devoid of altruistic thought.
As one retiring Missouri Representative told me a number of years ago, “…the only way one can possibly
get anything done in the Missouri statehouse is if you come with pockets full of cash.” 
I truly wish that I could have proven that not to be true. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. No

matter how much science that I would furnish for them, no matter how many stories of healing, the ONLY
thing that has ever moved them has been money.

Don’t get suckered in by the profiteers who will tell you that you HAVE TO vote for crap like this in order
to keep “worse bills” from making it to the ballot. You don’t. You don’t have to settle. What you DO need
to do is educate yourself… so that you’re not carried away by the lies of those who would steal your vote
through extortion. You see, that is exactly what it is when someone attempts to force you to vote for the
lesser of evils. It’s extortion. Our elect are quite skilled at it. The fact is, that’s how most of them were
elected. “The lesser of evils”.

With each consecutive general election, the Cannabis bills that were presented, have increasingly drawn
closer to “Cannabis Restoration”. It’s comforting knowing that I am making a difference, though the
elapsing time has meant all too many Missourians have suffered and continue to suffer needlessly.
EVERY Cannabis user that I have spoken to has agreed that their fundamental desire was to see Cannabis
TRULY legalized. Only profiteers and “pot” activists have opposed it.

Aren’t we all long overdue achieving what we have longed for from the beginning?
I know it’s hard to imagine. That’s why I have worked so diligently to show you that REAL legalization is

in fact possible. Missouri politicians are working quite diligently to eliminate our right to the “initiative
process”. They know that it’s our only means to self-govern and free ourselves from draconian Cannabis
laws.

Don’t accept the lies and half-truths. Read… educate yourself to the truth.

Cannabis is nontoxic. Cannabis is food. Cannabis is the single most important medicine of the 21st century.

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