missouri marijuana legislative hb 512 hb 688
Medical Marijuana Policy

New Approach Missouri Files Medical Marijuana Initiatives For 2016 Election

missouri marijuana legislative hb 512 hb 688I have followed Missouri marijuana politics quite a bit since 2012. I have long pointed to Missouri as a state that is ripe for reform, even if it’s not one of the first states that you think of when you think of who’s next to legalize recreational and/or medical marijuana. Recreational marijuana may be a tough sell to Missouri voters right now, but I think that medical marijuana would pass with flying colors if it were ever on the ballot in Missouri. If New Approach Missouri has its way, Missouri voters will get a chance to do exactly that on Election Day 2016, as the campaign filed two medical marijuana initiatives today. Per The Columbia Daily Tribune:

The group filed two versions of a medical marijuana initiative at the secretary of state’s office, both amending the state constitution to make access to legal marijuana a right. After a review period, signature gatherers will begin seeking more than 160,000 signatures to put it on the November 2016 ballot.

The measure would allow doctors to issue certification to purchase medical marijuana to patients with cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV-AIDS and several other severe illnesses. The proposal would impose a 6 percent tax on medical marijuana sales in addition to the existing sales taxes. The new revenue would be dedicated to veterans’ health care.

Doctors would be responsible for making sure patients are not using the law to avoid penalties for recreational use, said Viets.

As I have said many times, a victory in Missouri would be a victory for every other state that is fighting to legalize medical marijuana. Missouri is a very conservative state, and if MO can do it, I can’t think of too many other states that would be considered ‘off limits’ to reform after a victory there. If you live in Missouri, now is the time to get active. As far as I can tell, New Approach Missouri doesn’t have a website yet, so I’d urge people to contact Show-Me Cannabis in the meantime to see how you can help!

  • ralphgarcia
  • skoallio

    Should have called it SMART APPROACH Missouri. Sounds much better.

    • disqus_khOigjnTmd

      “New Approach” was successful in Oregon, so it’s already battle-tested! The Oregon legalization organization was called New Approach Oregon, and was in fact founded by Missouri folks who immigrated / escaped to Oregon. I imagine the name is a nod to those trailblazers, whom we’re quite proud of here in Columbia, MO :)

  • disqus_khOigjnTmd

    The 6% tax chafed me at first (it is medicine, after all), but after considering what it’s earmarked for – veterans’ health care – I think it’s a brilliant strategic move, and worth the cost (I live in Missouri, and would be covered under the initiative if it passed). As the full text of that Columbia Tribune article notes, the Missouri veterans associations are all behind the petition, which is HUGE in Missouri, where patriotism is kind of a huge thing. More important, though, is the last sentence of the article:

    “‘There are veterans organizations in almost every town of the state, and
    that resource will be used to help gather signatures for the initiative,’
    Mundell [president of the Missouri Association of Veterans Organizations] said.”

    The tough part about getting a constitutional amendment* on the ballot in Missouri (as background, I worked on a prior initiative campaign in MO, not for cannabis) is that you need to collect 8% of signatures (of the total vote for governor in the last election) in 6 of the 8 congressional districts. We’re of course gerrymandered as hell here, so there are 2 incredibly liberal congressional districts (Kansas City and St. Louis proper), where it is incredibly easy to reach the threshold, and then 6 reliably Republican districts. The next-easiest districts are:

    3) St. Louis suburbs: not Ferguson, but the white flight suburbs out west of the city. Overall conservativeness overshadowed by the fact that it’s a really compact district, so much easier to get signatures than when people are spread out really far from each other, which is a problem with all the remaining districts to some degree.
    4) Columbia and center-west MO: for those unfamiliar with the city, Columbia is a liberal midwestern college town, not unlike a smaller Ann Arbor, Madison, etc. We decriminalized locally in 2004, which gives you a pretty good idea of the strength of our little activist community, and the lean of the town. The problem is that to compensate for this and make a reliably Republican district, the rest of the district is very rural and conservative.
    5) Springfield and SE MO: Springfield is somewhat larger than Columbia and also a college town, but also substantially more conservative. Those factors seem to roughly cancel each other out, so about equal difficulty with Columbia.

    Those three are all doable with good organization. The problem is that that leaves you one district where you still have to hit that 8% threshold! The remaining three districts are all very rural, and very conservative. There’s no central population center from which to organize around**, so be prepared to spend an ungodly amount of money ferrying signature-gatherers out to every county seat with 5,000 people to get chased away by the local business owners.

    UNLESS, circling back to the present, you have an alliance with every VFW, American Legion, etc. in every corner of the state, including those difficult rural districts. Many vets are retired or on disability, meaning that they have the time to dedicate to volunteering for such a worthy cause. The 6% tax going to VA health care is the compromise that provides an unassailable argument to conservative voters, and secures a volunteer base outside of the stoner crowd that mostly congregates in cities. This is how you win in Missouri!!

    *Legal but not constitutional changes only take a 5% signature threshold, but those are mostly pointless as the legislature can immediately undo them.
    **There’s Jefferson City in the 3rd congressional district, but for being the state capital, it’s pretty tiny, under 50,000, only the 15th-largest city in the state. Plus a lot of the people who work there live in Columbia, which is just half an hour away but in a different district. Again, thank (Republican) gerrymandering.

    • saynotohypocrisy

      What crap that grotesquely gerrymandered districts play a role in having a constitutional amendment qualify for the ballot. Another assault on democracy.

  • disqus_khOigjnTmd

    I checked the Secretary of State’s website and found the language for the petition, if anyone wants to check it out – http://s1.sos.mo.gov/CMSImages/Elections/Petitions/2016-124.pdf
    (They submitted another one that looks identical except for whether it amends an existing section in the MO constitution, or creates a new one, which is probably just to keep one of them from getting thrown out on a legal technicality.)

    I like what I’ve had time to read so far – the condition list includes any “chronic medical condition that is normally treated with a prescription medication that could lead to physical or psychological dependence”, for which cannabis could be a treatment. So a whole host of conditions where the treatment can be almost as bad as the ailment, from chronic pain to insomnia, will be covered.

  • jeff

    They need to include chiropractors. I am one and many of us want this. We already have access to herbal/nutritional/supplemental products. We treat pain nearly everywhere in the body, not just backs for almost all the most common aliments. Is it to late to change the petitions wording?

    • Madelyne Maag

      Jeff, are you referring to Chiropractors in Columbia?