Marijuana legalization advocates lobby capitol

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JEFFERSON CITY - Local marijuana legalization advocates are heading to the state capitol Tuesday to lobby members of the Missouri General Assembly.

This comes just days after Press Secretary Sean Spicer said there will be "greater enforcement" of federal drug laws by the Trump administration.

Representatives from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (or NORML) in conjunction with the American Civil Liberties Union are hosting the citizen lobby day.

Representatives from NORML said they hope to identify legislators who disagree with them and educate the members on the positive health effects of marijuana consumption. 

"Realistically, we don't expect the legislature to do anything to help reform marijuana laws in the state," Steve Faber, the president of the Mid-Missouri NORML chapter, said. 

Faber explained NORML is working to collect signatures to put medical marijuana use on the 2018 ballot. 

Missouri Senate Bill 491 took effect on Jan. 1 and decriminalized possession for Marijuana under 35 grams. 

Rep. Brandon Ellington, D-East Side, proposed a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana for individuals 21 years of age or older. The amendment has stalled since its second reading.

Ellington said it's just a matter of time before Missouri legalizes recreational marijuana. 

"I think it's something that is going to realistically happen, but I think it's going to happen upon us losing additional revenue," Ellington said. "Whether that's tourism dollars from recreational, whether that's medicinal revenue and recreational revenue we are losing to adjoining states."

He explained Kansas is currently debating legalizing medicinal marijuana. He said the tax dollars gained from a similar move in Missouri could be used to fix the state's budget woes. 

Rep. Jered Taylor, R-Nixa, said any move to legalize marijuana would be a step in the wrong direction. 

"Just because it's an increase in tax revenue doesn't make it a good idea," Taylor said. 

Taylor said he has concerns about car crashes from marijuana intoxication. 

"Let's leave it up to the federal government, we've always left medical-type decisions, medical prescription drugs up to the federal government. Let's let them decide," Taylor said. 

The Mid-Missouri chapter of NORML will join its sister chapters from across the state at the capitol from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Tuesday.