Supporters of legalizing medical marijuana in Missouri have turned in signatures for three ballot initiatives.
Voters in Missouri may have three different chances to legalize medical marijuana in the coming November election. After a failed attempt to present voters with a medical marijuana initiative in 2016, three separate cannabis-supporting activist groups in Missouri turned in signatures for ballot initiatives that would allow voters to decide the issue later this year.
The differences among the proposals largely stem from how marijuana would be regulated and taxed, and where tax revenue would go.
New Approach Missouri, the campaign that came close to putting a measure on the ballot in 2016, was able to turn in 372,483 signatures, more than double the 160,000 needed to qualify. Their amendment would allow state-licensed doctors to recommend medical marijuana to patients diagnosed with epilepsy, cancer, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, glaucoma, intractable migraines, psychiatric disorders, HIV and AIDS, terminal illness, spinal cord injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and any other debilitating condition.
The campaign’s measure levies a four percent retail tax on dispensary sales, and the revenue in excess of the cost of regulating the statewide system would go to help Missouri’s veterans with health care costs.
“For veterans, it’s really a win-win proposition,” said Jack Cardetti, the group’s spokesman.
Another group called Find the Cure submitted more than 300,000 signatures for its constitutional amendment, which would cover the same conditions as the initiative from New Approach Missouri but proposes a 15 percent tax on medical marijuana. Revenue would go to regulating the industry and creating a research institute to regulate marijuana and study incurable diseases.
A third group, Missourians for Patient Care submitted signatures for a medical marijuana statute rather than an amendment, which requires fewer signatures. The initiative would rewrite state law and distribute a 2 percent tax among several state agencies and focus specifically on veterans.
Only New Approach Missouri’s measure would legalize the personal cultivation of cannabis plants by registered medical marijuana patients.
The secretary of state’s office and local election authorities must verify the signatures before the proposed ballot initiatives are certified and presented before voters. The process can take months.
If all three measures make it to the ballot and are approved by voters, the following formula would be used to decide which would overrule the others: Any constitutional amendment would trump the statute, and whichever amendment received the most votes would win and overrule the other.
“All polling has indicated that support for medical marijuana in Missouri is well above 60 percent. Only 50 percent of voters is required in order for this initiative to succeed in amending our state’s Constitution,” Dan Viets, the chair of New Approach Missouri’s board, told Marijuana Moment in an email.
“Although one or possibly two other medical marijuana initiatives may be placed on the ballot, ours will be first among the Constitutional amendments on this topic. If both of the two Constitutional amendment initiatives pass, the one with more votes will prevail.”
Missouri’s Current Cannabis Laws
Missouri currently has in place a restrictive low-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) medical marijuana law, which gives approved patients diagnosed with intractable epilepsy access to cannabis oil with at least 5 percent cannabidiol (CBD) and less than 0.3 percent THC.
Separate from the ballot measures, a bill that would legalize medical marijuana passed the Missouri House recently.
House Bill 1554 is more restrictive than the proposed ballot measures. The bill doesn’t include pain as a qualifying condition. It also doesn’t allow “combustible” marijuana and patients wouldn’t qualify unless a physician certifies that they would benefit from cannabis “at the same dosage and with the same method of smokeless administration used in a clinical trial.”
The bill has been sent to the Senate, which has about a week to consider it before the end of session.