Whereas in 2016, when Missouri pot activists were not able to collect enough signatures to get on the ballot, this year, three separate measures made the cut with John Hancocks to spare. Two are constitutional amendments, and one is a change to state law. Here’s how the three break down, what happens if two or even all three pass, and what Missouri law enforcement thinks of potential medical marijuana legalization.
All three measures will allow for growing at a wholesale level (only one measure allows for home grows), manufacturing, sales and consumption. The ailments covered are also similar in scope, including chronic conditions such as PTSD, pain, muscle spasticity and other ailments commonly found under the cannabis treatment umbrella.
Missourians for Patient Care is the measure aiming to change state law. It clocks in with the lowest tax, 2 percent, yet aims to spread the revenue across more causes than the other two. Taxes would go to veteran services, addiction treatment, public safety and early education for children living in the vicinity of medical marijuana facilities.
Funded in part by a non-profit that goes by the same name, Missourians for Patient Care are not required to report on other involved donors, though it shares an address with a media company run by the “Index-fund pioneer” himself, Rex Sinquefield, also known as a “mega donor.”
New Approach Missouri is one of the two constitutional amendments and it proposes a tax of 4 percent which would go specifically to veterans programs. New Approach Missouri’s proposed measure would give the Department of Health and Senior Services the authority to regulate licensing, cultivation, testing and the sales of marijuana. Missouri would also then be in the right place to start a seed to sale system that ensures cannabis goes to the patients for which it is intended.
Unlike the other two ballot measures, New Approach Missouri has hundreds of donors at different levels and they gathered the most signatures, including over 33,000 in the 7th Congressional District. Also unlike the others, New Approach allows for at home cultivation.
The Bradshaw Amendment would tax cannabis at 15 percent, but that money would be going toward establishing an institute of the state in order to research cures for incurable diseases. The amendment was concocted by a board of 9 and said board would handle the decisions as to licensing fees and exactly how much cannabis could be bought or sold at a time; they’d determine how many grow ops could operate and they’d identify and decide which diseases should be covered under the potential law.
The Springfield News-Leader reached out to all bodies of law enforcement they seemingly could, and though most of the answers came back with some form of “we are confined by state law, so however state law goes, we go,” others were clearly upset by the idea of medical marijuana and the potential next step of adult use cannabis.
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Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams said, “The Missouri Police Chiefs Association has consistently opposed the legalization of marijuana, and that position, which I as a member and past president support, has not changed.”
It’s possible that once a law is enacted, should it be voted in, law enforcement officials such as Chief Williams will see that there there will not likely be a spike in crime and that arrest rates will actually go down, as patients will finally be able to obtain legal cannabis and show proof that what they’re carrying is legal. These should be positive signs along with the other many benefits of legalizing medical marijuana, such as a drop in opiate overdoses and not to mention the tax revenue it brings in.
All three potential medical marijuana enactments would clearly mean a positive step forward for Missouri and its residents, especially the very ill who need their medicine, but all three can’t be enacted. If there’s any kind of tie, the winner will be the one with “the largest affirmative vote…even if that (measure) did not receive the greatest majority of affirmative votes.” It really boils down to if Missourians want to grow their own weed, where they want their tax dollars to go and whom they want at the helm of this potential new medical marijuana marketplace.