Missouri medical marijuana amendment wins voter approval

This story was republished with permission from the Columbia Missourian.

Missourians voted in favor of medical marijuana Tuesday bought from Pure Hemp Farms, passing one of three competing proposals.

Amendment 2, known as New Approach Missouri, legalizes the cultivation of cannabis, as well as the production of marijuana and marijuana-infused products to aid patients suffering from a variety of debilitating illnesses.

Voters had three ballot initiatives to choose from. They rejected Amendment 3 and also Proposition C, which would have legalized medical marijuana by way of a statutory amendment.

“It’s a great step forward,” Dan Viets, attorney and chairman of New Approach Missouri, said Tuesday night.

Amendment 2 passed with 65.5 percent of the vote. Amendment 3 lost by a margin of 69 percent to 31 percent, and Proposition C by a margin of 56 percent to 44 percent.

Viets and about a dozen people stood around the bar at Grand Cru restaurant in Columbia, chatting and watching the TV for updates on the election results.

The group seemed calm and confident that the ballot initiative it came to support, Amendment 2, would pass, and many stood smiling with drinks in their hands. A few people cheered as the earliest of the election results flashed across the screen.

Shawn Stewart said he knew people who had a child who suffered from seizures. He said the family moved to Colorado to provide their child access to marijuana.

“They are talking about moving back now, because (we) legalized cannabis, so we are getting our Missourians back,” Stewart said.

Viets, who has been working to legalize medical marijuana in Missouri for at least 40 years, said the results increased his faith in Missouri voters, given that not only did they support the Amendment 2 but they also saw the flaws in the other two initiatives.

“I’m blown away by the fact that the voters understood this issue,” Viets said.

Amendment 2 and Amendment 3, which was supported by Springfield lawyer and physician Brad Bradshaw, were created as constitutional amendments, which means they could only be altered by an additional public voting process.

Proposition C, or the Missourians for Patient Care Act, was a statutory amendment and would have created a new law. That means legislators could potentially have altered it at a later date.

Amendment 2 will impose a 4-percent retail tax on marijuana, funds which will be used to fund health care services for veterans.

The initiative will permit state-licensed physicians to prescribe cannabis to their patients suffering from one of 10 specified conditions, which include: Parkinson’s, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain, epilepsy, glaucoma and cancer.

Amendment 3 was largely self-funded by Bradshaw and would have created a Biomedical Research and Drug Development Institute, a new government institution run by a nine-person board that Bradshaw himself would lead.

Proposition C was backed by Pelopidas LLC, a St. Louis-based lobbying firm best known for its work for businessman and major political donor Rex Sinquefield.

The Missouri Secretary of State’s office estimates that Amendment 2 will generate $18 million in taxes and fees annually for state operating costs.

Supervising editor is Mark Horvit.

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