JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Medical marijuana was defeated in the House last month, but that doesn’t mean Missouri voters won’t get a chance to vote on the issue this November. New Approach Missouri will present almost 250,000 signatures, more than the needed 167,000 to the secretary of state’s office Sunday to put their own medical marijuana proposal on the ballot.
“We are turning in signatures on Sunday to place this important issue before voters in November,” said Jack Cardetti, a consultant for the campaign. “This issue has a ton of support throughout Missouri. It’s popular in part because it starts to put people and their doctors in charge of the decision making process.”
Last month, the House failed to pass a bill that would have put a more restrictive medical marijuana proposal on the ballot in November. That measure would have only allowed medical marijuana for end-of-life cancer patients in hospice. Cardetti believes that the limits in that bill are one of the reasons it failed.
“Our approach potentially benefits more patients,” he said. “It allows those living with illnesses to be able to go to their doctor and their doctor determine a viable treatment option.”
He says this approach will allow patients living with cancer, MS, cystic fibrosis and other illnesses. He also says the approach has broad support across the political spectrum, including from Democrats, Republicans and libertarians.
When the medical marijuana proposal was in the House, proponents argued the should pass the bill while they had a chance to have input on regulatory frameworks. They used the IP as a boogeyman of potentially bad consequences.
“A no vote on this kills the bill. We’re done,” said Rep. Mike Colona, D-St. Lous. “And then maybe the ‘wactavists’ do collect all their signatures. And if you put it on the ballot it’s going to pass. And if you put it on the ballot, we have no control over some of the [regulations]. I want to ask you to take a leap of faith on this and vote green on this.”
But Cardetti says the New Approach Missouri IP does have some reasonable regulations in place, based on what the learned from the 24 states in the country that have implemented medical marijuana. He specifically targeted Oregon and Colorado as models.
“Those states that put patients first were most successful,” he said. The New Approach Missouri proposal would be implemented by the Department of Health. Driving after smoking would still be illegal, as would smoking in public.
And before anyone started thinking too far down the road, Cardetti said this would not open the door to legalized marijuana. Any further proposals would still have to go through voters on another ballot process or be passed by the legislature.
For the current initiative, Cardetti is pleased with the way it turned out and what he says will be benefits for Missourians to make choices with their doctors.
“It’s a very narrowly defined goal and we are glad to make the first step by putting this on the ballot.”