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Understanding the Three Medical Marijuana Issues on the Missouri Ballot

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Missourians will see three medical marijuana initiatives on the ballot November 6:  there's Amendment 2, Amendment 3, and Proposition C.

Here's what makes each of them different.

Amendment 2

Amendment 2 is backed by a group called New Approach Missouri. The group’s spokesman is Jack Cardetti.

“Amendment 2 is a true coalition that has come together all with the goal of making sure that doctors and patients can be back in charge of their healthcare decisions,” Cardetti said.

Amendment 2 would allow the use of marijuana for patients living with specific conditions listed in the full ballot language.

Those conditions include cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, severe migraines, some psychiatric disorders, and conditions with ongoing pain or spasms—like multiple sclerosis, seizures, Parkinson’s or Tourette’s.   It would also cover patients with terminal illness.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services would regulate the distribution of marijuana.

Patients would apply for a license, then if approved, be allowed to cultivate up to six homegrown marijuana plants.

If passed, Amendment 2 would require at least 24 dispensaries to open in each of Missouri’s eight congressional districts.

“Missourians want their neighbors and their friends, their colleagues that are suffering with serious, debilitating illnesses to have access to medical marijuana, but they don’t want to see it on every single street corner,” Cardetti said.

Amendment 2 would impose a four percent tax on marijuana sales. That money would to go to the Missouri Veterans Commission for veterans’ health care, and also be used for state licensing and regulation.

The Epilepsy Foundation of Missouri and Kansas says that some marijuana products can help control seizures. Darla Templeton, the foundation’s chief executive officer, said the foundation supports Amendment 2 and Proposition C because they coordinate with state departments.

At least one state law enforcement agency has spoken out against all three initiatives: Kevin Merritt, the executive director of the Missouri Sheriffs' Association, told KSMU he’s concerned legalizing medical marijuana might lead to more drug abuse.

Amendment 3

Amendment 3, unlike the other two initiatives, would create a state research institute to explore cures and treatments for incurable medical conditions.

It would also establish a nine-member board for that institute, the members of which would initially be selected by Brad Bradshaw, a physician and lawyer from Springfield who is behind Amendment 3. Bradshaw’s role would be unpaid, but he would be reimbursed for expenses.

“The research board will be really qualified and respected scientists and that’s one of the reasons I have myself down as the coordinator who’s involved in selecting these people,” Bradshaw said. “We want true scientists.”

That research board would issue, regulate, and revoke licenses for people growing and selling medical marijuana—that’s a different setup than the other two ballot initiatives, which would make state agencies in charge.

Amendment 3 would allow the use of marijuana for patients with qualifying medical conditions.

The conditions listed in the full ballot text are similar to those in Amendment 2—chronic, debilitating, and terminal illnesses—but Amendment 3 also includes “any other diseases that the Research Board determines” will benefit from the treatment.

Bradshaw says his amendment offers hope for the future of medicine.

“It’s been initially an interest in finding a cure for cancer, having seen a lot of people with cancer,” Bradshaw said. “It is such a horrible disease. It can strike people at any age. It destroys families.”

Sales of medical marijuana would be taxed at 15 percent—that’s a lot higher than Amendment 2 or Proposition C. Bradshaw says the tax is a flat rate that includes local or state taxes.

Local governments could ban dispensaries in their jurisdictions by a majority vote.

Bradshaw previously filed two lawsuits against the backers of the other two medical marijuana initiatives. He said there were questions about the legitimacy of how they made it on the ballot.

Both lawsuits were dismissed.

Proposition C

Proposition C is backed by a group called Missourians for Patient Care.

The initiative petition was submitted to the Secretary of State’s office by Lowell Pearson, a Jefferson City lawyer. Pearson declined our invitation for an interview.

Under Proposition C, medical marijuana would be grown and sold in facilities, which would be licensed through Missouri’s Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control. That’s part of the Department of Public Safety.

It would allow patients with chronic, terminal, or debilitating conditions to use medical marijuana, based on the judgment of a doctor.

If passed, the proposition would impose a 2 percent tax on the sale of medical marijuana.

The funds gathered from the tax would be used for veterans' services, drug treatment, early childhood education, and for public safety in cities with a medical marijuana facility.

Darla Templeton of the Epilepsy Foundation of Missouri and Kansas said the foundation also supports Proposition C because it would coordinate with a state department.

“So, to make medical marijuana available to patients with epilepsy is something that is important to us and that we support," Templeton said.

Kevin Merritt, of the Missouri Sheriffs' Association, said the association is open-minded to any new information that could change the association's stance on legalizing medical marijuana. However, the information available now has not swayed the association's position.

“We feel that the benefits of legalizing marijuana when there are already FDA-approved drugs don’t outweigh what it does to the community and society as a whole,” Merritt said.

What happens if more than one passes?

If both amendments pass, then according to state statute, the one with the most “yes” votes will prevail.

If one amendment and Proposition C both pass, then the Constitutional amendment will likely prevail—but legal experts say the matter could ultimately need to be decided by the courts. 

The law that addresses that situation is in Missouri’s Revised Statutes, Title IX, Chapter 116, and you can read it  by clicking here.

The election is November 6.

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