A Missouri lawmaker has pre-filed a bill for the 2024 session that would prevent police from using the smell of marijuana as the sole basis of a warrantless vehicle or property search.
The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Ian Mackey (D), would build on the state’s voter-approved cannabis legalization law, reforming law enforcement policies in a way that mirrors steps taken by other jurisdictions like Maryland and New Jersey.
Mackey filed an earlier version of the bill in 2021, but it did not advance out of committee.
The one-page measure says that “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.”
Several legal cannabis states have similarly imposed the restriction on police, including Maryland, where the governor allowed legislation to go into law last year that blocks warrantless vehicle searches based on marijuana odor alone. New Jersey’s Supreme Court has already recently upheld similar rules in a case involving an improper search.
In Missouri, the implementation of a vote-approved 2022 legalization law has also led to the expungement of more than 100,000 marijuana cases from court records.
As of November, meanwhile, marijuana sales in the Missouri passed the $1 billion mark for 2023, which includes both adult-use and medical marijuana.
Of tax revenue received by the state, lawmakers recently announced that $17 million will be used to fund veterans health, drug treatment and legal aid.
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More broadly, Missouri’s marijuana system has experienced considerable turbulence this past year, with tens of thousands of products recalled over the allegedly illegal use of hemp-derived cannabinoids from outside the state. In November, officials moved to revoke the business license of Delta Extraction, the company at the center of the controversy.
The incident put state marijuana regulators on their heels regarding practices at product testing labs, which had already come under fire earlier in 2023 over alleged practices of “lab shopping” as producers sought higher THC potency numbers.
Another company, Retailer Point Management, which does business as Shangri-La in Columbia, recently settled a dispute with a union over 15 charges of unfair labor practices. It’s part of a broader push by workers at cannabis businesses to organize the industry.
Meanwhile, lawmakers in November said the state’s marijuana regulators overstepped their authority when setting new rules on product branding and packaging meant to limit appeal to children.
Businesses also recently filed a lawsuit challenging the “stacked” local and county taxes that companies say is unconstitutional.
Last month, meanwhile, two Missouri Republicans pre-filed a pair of bills to legalize the medical use of psilocybin and require clinical trials exploring the therapeutic potential of the psychedelic.
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