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Medical marijuana fails again in the House as IP moves closer to the ballot

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The House failed for the second time this session to move medical marijuana out of the chamber, days after an initiative petition to put the issue on the ballot submitted its signatures.

Rep. Dave Hinson, R- St. Clair, attempted to amend the Compassionate Care Act to SB 831, a bill regulating professional licensure. The discussion Wednesday centered on the urgency to pass a bill out of the legislature given the less restrictive nature of the IP’s ballot language.

“I am supporting a very conservative, cautious approach to this, and if folks took the time to read initiative petition and compare to your amendment or the amendment I offered, they would see that [we] have really taken a conservative, cautious approach,” said Rep. Mike Colona, D-St. Louis to Rep. Jack Bondon, R-Belton, both of whom offered amendments to the amendment.

Both amendments were offered with the petition in mind. Colona offered an amendment that removed some of the more restrictive aspects of the bill, including a $500,000 bond for potential distributors and an increase of licenses for distribution from 30 to 40. His amendment also would have changed the legislation from a constitutional change to a statutory change, letting it go straight to the governor’s desk if approved.

“We are doing our job by regulating something that’s going to come to the state of Missouri whether you like it or not,” Colona said. “We can fix it next year if we run into any hiccups,” something he said the legislature wouldn’t be able to do under a constitutional amendment, like the IP.

Rep. Mike Colona
Rep. Mike Colona

Several members of the body supported Colona’s amendment, especially because they were concerned about the prospect of the petition. Rep. Shamed Dogan, R-Ballwin, expressed some concern that the ballot language takes the state on the road to becoming another Colorado, asking Colona, “If people don’t want us to look like Colorado, isn’t this one of the best ways to stop it?”

But other members who have consistently opposed medical marijuana said fear of the IP wasn’t a good reason to pass the legislation now.

“There is a misconception that putting this law before the governor would somehow blunt the initiative petition,” said Rep. Nick King, R-Liberty. “That would be a very poor reason to vote for a very bad bill and amendment.”

Colona’s amendment failed in a 78-78 roll call vote, but Bondon’s amendment passed. His change prohibited the Department of Health and Senior Services from, in the future, expanding the list of potential illnesses treated by medical marijuana.

The underlying amendment picked up a couple of votes from the first time it failed in the House, but with only 71 votes it was still well short of passing, clearing the way for the initiative petition.