President Donald Trump has recently made statements that he will likely support a bill proposed by Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, which leaves the decision to legalize marijuana up to the states, instead of having the decision made on a federal level.
On the upcoming November 6 ballot in Missouri, there are three initiatives up for vote that approach the use of medical marijuana, Amendment 2 and 3, and Proposition C.
The use of medical marijuana is always up for debate, from Average Joe to policymakers, it can be hard to know where to land on the issue. According to Harvard Medical School, medical marijuana has many benefits to patients and the general public, including pain relief for diseases such as multiple sclerosis, which can also decrease the use of opioids, and reduce tremors from diseases like Parkinson’s. The laws on marijuana possession are stricter in Missouri than other states. Possession of anything less than 35 grams results in a Class A misdemeanor (up to one year prison time), sale in less than 5 grams is a Class C felony (up to 7 years prison time), and trafficking of any amount of marijuana can get you up to 10 years prison time.
Amendment 2 allows in-home growing of medical marijuana to create a statewide system of growth. It allows up to six plants per household, and claims that it still pushes a public safety mission, as it “maintains the current prohibition on public use and driving under the influence.”
Before patients have the ability to grow six plants, they must get permission from their physicians and acquire an Identification Card. The card expires after 12 months and has an annual fee of $100.00. The ability to home grow will allow easier access for those patients who need their prescription consistently.
“We are focused only on the patients and what is easiest access for them,” Jack Cardetti, the general consultant for New Approach, said. New Approach’s website states that they are, “the campaign to allow patients with debilitating medical conditions to use medical marijuana under the supervision of their doctors.”
Amendment 2 would leave all responsibility of prescription use to state-licensed physicians, and claims it does not want to include any politicians or bureaucrats on the amendment. The amendment will have a four percent tax rate, and claims that they will, “use funds from these taxes for health and care services for military veterans by the Missouri Veterans Commission.”
New Approach also “allows the Department of Health and Senior Services to institute a seed-to-sale tracking system to ensure that the product and money do not reach the illicit market.” They do not want their amendment to move into recreational use, and “want to focus on medical use only.”
They have stated opposition against Amendment Three proposed by Brad Bradshaw, a licensed physician, surgeon, and lawyer.
“Amendment 3 is all about getting more power for Bradshaw, and ignores the care for patients,” Cardetti said. “He is imposing a 15 percent tax rate, which is currently the highest retail tax rate in the country: from all 30 states that have legal retail sale of medical marijuana.”
According to Washington State laws, however, marijuana for medical and recreational use is legal, and currently holds a 37 percent tax rate on people who sell marijuana. If you are registered patient selling and consuming marijuana, you are exempt from eight percent of that retail sales tax, but that still holds you at a 29 percent retail tax rate.
“The four percent tax rate that Amendment 2 is proposing is not a transparent tax, which means they could add on all kinds of taxes. It could be about 20-30 percent when it’s all finished,” Bradshaw said.
Bradshaw asked that voters look at states like Colorado who currently have home-grown laws, but are looking to scale them back substantially. Initially, Colorado had home-grow laws that allowed people to grow any amount marijuana in their homes. Since August, however, they’ve set in place ordinance that limits home-growth to 12 plants per household.
“Home-grown laws might bring in criminal elements,” Bradshaw said. “It’s never going to pass. It’s dead on arrival.”
Bradshaw said that he wants to make something that is, “probable to pass,” and that he is, “just trying to do the right thing,” and do what he considers is best for the patients.
Bradshaw’s higher tax rate will help fund a board to research the benefits and cures that medical marijuana can give patients. “It will be illegal to make money off of the research we are going to be doing,” notes Bradshaw.
Although Bradshaw will lead the board in the beginning, the lawyer’s initial involvement will be unpaid; he said he will be only trying to appoint people that have the best interest in medical research and the patients.
“I find it disgusting that people in this country would rather monopolize the use of medical marijuana, when we could be finding cures for cancer,” Bradshaw said.
On this ballot there will also be Proposition C, which was initiated by the Missouri for Patient Care foundation, and is also going to propose a legalization of medical marijuana.
The Missouri for Patient Care foundation is mainly backed by Pelopidas LLC, whose CEO is Travis Brown. Pelopidas LLC has been linked to Rex Sinquefield, active in Missouri politics and one of the founders of the Show-Me Institute.
Proposition C would look into legalizing medical marijuana, focusing on care for patients. Each patient could have 2.5 oz. of the cannabis flower or a 14-day supply, but would have a possession limit of a 60-day supply, whatever that may be per patient.
This proposition would also have a two percent tax on the retail sale of medical marijuana, and would “use the funds from this tax for veteran services, drug treatment, early childhood education, and for public safety in cities with a medical marijuana facility.”
Proposition C would “task the state Senior Services and Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control and Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services with overseeing and regulating the state’s medical marijuana program.”
The responsibility would not be put on the physicians, unlike both Amendment 2 and Amendment 3. It is similar to Amendment 3, however, in the sense that home-grow will also be completely prohibited, which means that Amendment 2 will be the only initiative that allows their patients to cultivate their medication at home.
If all of these measures pass, the one with the overall highest votes will continue forward.