With Fate of Ballot Initiative Up in the Air, Poll Finds Majority of Missouri Voters Back Legalization

It is still unclear whether a proposal to legalize cannabis use for adults will qualify for this year’s ballot in Missouri. But if it does, it’s a good bet to pass.

That is the takeaway of a new poll conducted and released late last month.

Sixty-two percent of Missouri voters said they believe marijuana for recreational use should be legal, according to the latest findings from SurveyUSA. Only 26% of those polled said that weed should remain illegal.

Huge majorities of Democrats and independents in the Show Me State support the end of cannabis prohibition, the survey found.

Seventy-eight percent of Dems said that recreational pot use should be legal, while 68% of Missouri independents said the same.

Republicans in the state were more divided on the question, with 47% of GOP voters in Missouri saying that recreational cannabis use should be legal and 40% saying it should remain illegal.

Huge majorities in every age group said they support legalization—except for those 65 and older.

Seventy-three percent of voters aged 18-34 said they are in favor of ending prohibition, while 70% of the 35-49 age group and 60% of those aged 50-64 said the same.

Among voters 65 and older, the split was identical to the divide among Republicans: 47% said they support legalization, while 40% said they do not.

The SurveyUSA poll was conducted July 24-27 and is based on interviews with 1,981 registered Missouri voters. It has a margin of error of 2.6%.

All told, the polling data is highly encouraging to advocates who are hoping that Missouri becomes the latest state to legalize recreational pot use this year.

But first, they must get the question before voters in the state.

That remains up in the air, as the Missouri secretary of state’s office continues to assess petitions submitted by a group aiming to get a legalization initiative on this year’s ballot.

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft said last month that it is too early to say whether organizers gathered the required number of signatures in order for an initiative to qualify.

Under Missouri state law, organizers must obtain signatures from 8% of registered voters in six of the eight congressional districts.

In May, the group Legal Missouri 2022 submitted more than 385,000 signatures to Ashcroft’s office, well above the requisite threshold. 

But local television station KFVS reported last month that, although the group had obtained the required number signatures in four congressional districts, the counts in the other four districts were less than certain.

Ashcroft’s office is expected to make a final decision on the initiative by August 9.

“I can’t say without any certainty whether it will make it or not. It is in no way certain that they will fail. This isn’t dead,” Ashcroft told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Organizers affiliated with Legal Missouri, meanwhile, continue to express optimism that voters will have an opportunity to weigh in on the initiative come November.

“The Legal Missouri 2022 campaign continues to work to ensure that every valid voter signature is counted properly, and is excited that Missouri voters will soon have their opportunity to decide for themselves,” the group’s campaign manager, John Payne, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last month.

“Our close review of voter signature totals submitted to the state by counties shows that we have more than enough signatures to qualify our citizens’ initiative for the November general election ballot — and that some counties, due to a reliance on temporary workers, mistakenly rejected thousands of valid voter signatures. To be clear, this is not to suggest or imply any wrongdoing on the part of counties,” Payne added.


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