Supporters believe 2016 will be the year MO legalizes medical ma - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Supporters believe 2016 will be the year MO legalizes medical marijuana

MISSOURI (KFVS) -

Will 2016 be the year Missouri legalizes medical marijuana? Supporters hope their efforts this year will make it the 24th state to do so.

A ballot initiative is the first of many steps that could allow voters to decide whether to legalize marijuana.

In October, supporters will begin collecting signatures in hopes of passing two separate marijuana laws. The group, Show Me Cannabis and several others in support of legalizing the drug, will then begin circulating petitions around the state.

"I wouldn't be opposed to it as long as it's controlled,” said one Missourian.

The statewide initiative would amend the Missouri Constitution to allow patients to use small amounts of marijuana for medicinal needs.

About 158,000 signatures from registered voters are needed to get the issue on the 2016 ballot.

Some are against legalizing marijuana citing potential health risks and other hazards.

"Somebody is going to abuse it, I know that,” said another Missourian.

But some Missourians feel legal substances like alcohol and tobacco pose the same threat and thinks the voters should be able to decide.

The state-level initiative effort still needs to pass through several steps before petitioners gather signatures, which could take up to six weeks to complete.

Efforts to legalize medical and recreational marijuana in Missouri failed in 2012 and 2014 because there were not enough signatures collected.

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