Medical Marijuana and MO’s Looming Ballot Deadline

What supporters can do to make it happen.

Editor’s Note

Organizers are seeking to collect 250,000 signatures by May 8. That’s Missouri’s deadline for ballot initiative signatures.  The state law requires 157,000 signatures to get on the ballot, a threshold they’re expected to cross.  However, typically, a percentage of the signatures collected will be thrown out because the state won’t be able to verify them, so the group is seeking to overshoot the required number. To sign the petition, go here.  

Opinion / Editorial by Ryan Dixon

It’s finally happening Missouri!

Time to grab the Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies and pull grandma’s lamp shade off your bong…Cosmic Brownie… (yes, we can almost legally say BONG in a head shop) and locate the nearest polling place before November!  New Approach Missouri has crossed the finish line in its years long effort to place medicinal marijuana on the ballot for voters, not politicians, to decide. November 8th – burn a hole in your brain with that date, and remember to go vote.

If you’re not registered to vote, plan ahead. Do it.

This has been no small feat and is the result of thousands of Missourians getting behind the citizen led action to sidestep legislators and bring the issue directly to voters.  As of April 18th, we have an estimated 140,000 valid signatures of the 160,000 signatures required. The current collection rate of signatures is approximately 25,000 per week.

PaynePolitical Director of New Approach Missouri, John Payne, says: “We expect approximately 30 percent of the signatures to be invalid, mostly because people aren’t registered to vote, or their handwriting is illegible; leaving the goal to collect 240,000 signatures in order to safely get the amendment on the ballot.” Signatures must be turned in by May 8th. In my last conversation with John he gave us a 92% chance of success!

Voters will have the opportunity to approve Medical Marijuana, as follows…

The initiative petition basically says “Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to…”:

  • Allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes, and create regulations and licensing procedures for marijuana and marijuana facilities;
  • Impose a 4 % tax on the retail sale of marijuana
  • Use funds from these taxes for health care services for military veterans by the Missouri Veterans Commission and to administer the program to license and regulate marijuana and marijuana facilities. (I’m sure every penny will correctly be appropriated…insert bong water noise).
  • Qualifying patients may purchase no more than six ounces of dried, unprocessed marijuana, or its equivalent with an addition to that rule stating; “or 60 day supply”.

Read the full legislation – printable PDF

If approved, it would allow patients to discuss with state-licensed physicians the option of havingMedical marijuana medical marijuana for treatment of their debilitating condition.  Patients  may “administer” by way of ingestion of capsules, teas, oils, and other marijuana-infused products; vaporization or smoking of dried flowers, buds, plant material, extracts or oils; application of ointments or balms; transdermal patches and suppositories; consuming marijuana-infused food products; or by any other method recommended by a qualifying patients physician.

Physicians would be empowered to issue a “physician certification”, which is a document stating that the patient is likely to benefit from the medical use of marijuana to treat or alleviate symptom associated with qualifying medical conditions such as epilepsy, hiv, chronic pain (pun intended), and many more conditions that I’m sure you can think of. However, a “catch all” exists on Section 1-2-14H of the bill that basically says that a doctor can prescribe marijuana in place of any medication that could cause physical or psychological dependency.

A potential boom in new industry and services…

Upon approval by voters, the Department will, within 90 days, make available license application forms and application instruction for cultivation facilities, dispensary facilities and marijuana-infused products manufacturing facilities.  Within the same 90 days, they will make available the application forms for the public and ID cards for patients and primary caregivers of those patients.

John Payne and New Approach Missouri are happy to report: “The business community in Missouri has been overwhelmingly favorable to the movement”.   Retail businesses such as Smoke n Stuff in Saint Ann, Missouri, support the movement by collecting signatures from customers and offering information on the St. Louis based website, www.theglasspipeshop.com, in hopes to raise awareness. Payne continued, “Legislators will not be able to touch the amendment after it passes, however the health department is only required to give out the minimum number of licenses, 76 cultivation and 220 dispensaries in the state.”

MO’ MONEY

Estimated to generate additional annual taxes and fees…

$17 – $21 million in funding for state operating costs and veterans programs

$8 million for other state programs

$7 million for local governments

Payne estimates that only 160 dispensaries will be economically viable; however, there could be more or less depending on what the market bears, and that *at least one dispensary will be able to open in every county. Counties, contrary to popular belief, will not be able to block the minimum amount of dispensaries and cultivators required by law. When asked how these cultivation and dispensaries in other legal or medicinal states are working out financially, Payne said “It’s a real boom or bust scenario. Most of the time, and in most cases, businesses are either making a lot of money or doing really poorly.”

So when would it start, and what can supporters do to make it happen?

VOTE!

Voters
The effective date
of the voter approved amendment would be December 8, 2016, just one month after we greenlight it folks!  Missouri residents have waited a long time for this day to come!  But nothing will change without one important factor, you!

Imagine this…. long into your future when marijuana is readily accepted and has medicinal and commercial value as you grumpily stumble upon some young whipper-snappers that won’t have the slightest clue of what a world without marijuana would look like… then you explain how you voted for marijuana because of its many humanitarian uses as well as…lets face it….you love smoking it!

If you are not yet, please register to vote.  It’s your right, and your ancestral obligation as an American.  In Missouri, you can register to vote by MAIL and IN-PERSON ONLY.   Just submit a completed Missouri Voter Registration Application to your local county clerk.

Everything you need to know about registering to vote is HERE, including absentee ballots and deployed military ballots.

Your Voter Registration Form must be POSTMARKED by the 4th Wednesday before the election, that’s Oct. 12th.

If you are already registered, be sure to exercise your most fundamental freedom, and make your way to your local voting place on November 8th.   Together, let’s make Missouri greener and make history while doing it.

Opinion / Editorial,  Ryan Dixon

 

Terry Turner, tobacco industry professional, contributed to this post.

Photo Credit: Cris Kelly/123rf
Photo Credit: Whitney/flikr
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