Year-end campaign finance reports filed by two Missouri adult-use legalization efforts show a vast fundraising gulf between the petition drives, which could impact in signature gatherings.
Legal Missouri, an adult-use campaign backed by a small group of Missouri cannabis companies and the leadership of the state’s main cannabis trade group, MoCannTrade, reported over $778,000 raised in the last quarter of 2021 with at least another $150,000 of contributions from cannabis companies pouring in since the new year.
In comparison, the competing petition drive, Fair Access Missouri, received less than $1,200 in contributions during the same period, and reported $73,000 of debt incurred earlier in 2021.
Most of Fair Access’ donors were individuals contributing hundreds or a few thousand dollars. In contrast, most of Legal Missouri’s contributors gave $5,000 or more, with one donor, BD Health Ventures, which owns Flora Farms, giving over $90,000.
Both campaigns, which seek to make changes to the state constitution’s section legalizing medical marijuana, launched their signature drives with great fanfare last summer. To get on the ballot, a ballot initiative must collect just over 160,000 signatures, according to the Secretary of State’s office, to make it on Missouri’s November general election 2022 ballot.
While both petition efforts would legalize use and sale of recreational cannabis in Missouri , the circumstances around them are not the same. Fair Access Missouri’s petition language would legalize adult-use home cultivation and create an unlimited number of recreational sale and cultivation licenses. Legal Missouri would automatically grant adult-use licenses to all medical cannabis license holders, while delaying the creation of new licenses by nine months after enactment, and legalize home cultivation for recreational use for registered growers.
Both efforts include expungement of criminal records of marijuana offenses in their petition language.
Eric McSwain, who heads up Fair Access Missouri told Grown in last July that he expects a signature gathering effort to cost about $3 million. So far, Fair Access has raised about $25,000 and expended over $92,000, well short of the campaign’s stated goal.
Legal Missouri’s campaign manager, John Payne, told Grown In last August that he expects his campaign to cost about $2 million. That campaign has raised almost $1.3 million, according to state reports.
Neither campaign responded to requests for comment before publication.