Written by: Melissa Schiller – Cannabis Business Times
Missouri voters approved Amendment 2—one of the three medical marijuana ballot initiatives in the state—in the midterm election by a 65-34 margin with 95 percent of precincts reporting on Nov. 7, according to Ballotpedia.
“Thanks to the unflagging efforts of patients and advocates, Missourians who could benefit from medical marijuana will soon be able to use it without fear of being treated like criminals,” said Matthew Schweich, deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), in a public statement. “We hope lawmakers will implement the measure efficiently and effectively to ensure qualified patients can gain access to their medicine as soon as possible.”
“Amendment 2 passing is a major win for Missouri patients and the cannabis movement as a whole,” added Jeffery M. Zucker, president and co-founder of Green Lion Partners. “It’s good to see that having three competing measures didn’t sink all of them, as voters definitively identified the best option. … It is now on lawmakers to get the will of the voters implemented swiftly so that Missouri patients can find the relief and treatments they desperately need without being criminalized.”
Amendment 2, the Medical Marijuana and Veteran Healthcare Services Initiative, is a constitutional amendment, meaning it can only be changed through another public vote. The initiative, sponsored by New Approach Missouri, outlines a medical marijuana program that will be regulated and licensed by the Missouri Department of Health. Under the proposal, state-licensed physicians can recommend medical marijuana to patients with specified conditions, including cancer, epilepsy and PTSD. A four-percent sales tax will be levied to fund veterans’ medical care.
“Today Missourians overwhelmingly approved medical marijuana Amendment 2, allowing patients and veterans to work with their doctors to get safe, compassionate care,” said Jack Cardetti, spokesman for New Approach Missouri, in a public statement. “In becoming the 31st state to allow doctors to recommend medical marijuana to patients with serious and debilitating illnesses, Missourians showed that increasing health care treatment options for patients and supporting veterans are bipartisan Missouri values.”
“This is a patient-centered proposal that puts power in the hands of state-licensed physicians and their patients, not politicians or bureaucrats,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal, in a public statement. “Passage of Amendment 2 creates a robust statewide system for production and sale of medical cannabis. Of the three proposals on the ballot, we believed that Amendment 2 was the clear choice for voters, and the voters agreed.”
The other two initiatives struck down by Missouri voters include Amendment 3, another constitutional amendment, and Prop. C, a statutory amendment that could have been altered by the state legislature.
Amendment 3, also called the “Find the Cures” initiative, was supported and largely self-funded by Springfield lawyer Brad Bradshaw and would have created a new nine-person government institution—the Biomedical Research and Drug Development Institute—to help develop treatments and cures for cancer and other incurable conditions. A 15-percent sales tax would have been levied under the measure. The initiative failed 68-31 with 95 percent of precincts reporting, according to Ballotpedia.
Prop. C, the Missourians for Patient Care Act, was backed by a St. Louis-based lobbying firm, and would have allowed the Missouri Department of Health and the Department of Public Safety’s division of alcohol and tobacco control to regulate medical marijuana in the state. It would have imposed a two-percent sales tax to fund early childhood and public safety programs, drug rehabilitation and veterans programs. The measure failed 57-43 with 95 percent of precincts reporting, according to Ballotpedia.
“At this point, medical marijuana may enjoy more public support—and more bipartisan support—than virtually any other policy issue still up for debate,” said MPP Executive Director Steve Hawkins, in a public statement. “All Americans should have safe, legal and reliable access to medical cannabis if their doctors recommend it. Patients will be able to exercise that right in Missouri, but there are still many other states where they will continue to suffer. We can also expect more states to pass similar laws through ballot measures and in their legislatures in coming years. We hope Congress will do its part to ensure these state laws continue to be respected by our federal government. Or, better yet, they could enact legislation at the federal level to ensure medical cannabis is a legal treatment option for all Americans.”
“It is exciting to see the progress of the cannabis legalization movement across the country,” added Coda Signature CEO Mark Grindeland. “We’ve watched the evolution of states from decriminalization to legalization for medicinal use to then full legalization for recreational use. As cannabis becomes more accessible, we are looking forward to seeing more research to validate the healing capabilities of this amazing plant. We are already experiencing the economic benefits in terms of job creation and tax revenue and we are hopeful that this wave of support will continue to grow until we achieve legalization on a federal level.”
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