Medical marijuana proponents in Missouri were able to gather more than 200,000 signatures for their voter initiative effort to legalize the use of cannabis for medical purposes.
In order for the measure to qualify for the November 2018 electoral ballot, a total of 160,000 signatures in the state’s eight congressional districts were needed before May 6, 2018. It seems that cannabis advocates no longer need to wait until May to reach this number because it has already exceeded the minimum requirement.
The initiative allows patients to cultivate limited amount of cannabis or to purchase cannabis and other cannabis-infused products from facilities that are licensed by the state.
The effort to legalize medical cannabis is led by pro-cannabis group New Approach Missouri. The group also includes members of NORML, or the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
Missouri senate discusses medical cannabis
Late last month, the Missouri Senate had briefly discussed medical cannabis legalization, thanks to Sen. Jason Holsman (D-Kansas City). The Democrat senator put forward a proposal for a state-run medical cannabis system that will be administered by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
The state senate was initially discussing a bill to impose certain limits on prescriptions for opioid, to allow federal authorities to collect unused controlled substances, and to lower the minimum age for particular vaccinations, when Sen. Holsman introduced a 31-page amendment.
According to Holsman, there are Missouri residents who truly benefit from cannabis.
Holsman wanted to initiate a 21st-century discussion and debate regarding a regulated industry that seems to be working well in the country’s 29 other states.
Republican senators immediately expressed opposition to Holsman’s proposal, leading to a formal point of order that steered the discussion away from Holsman’s proposal and instead opened up a discussion about cannabis.
Senator Bob Onder (R-Lake St. Louis) accused Holsman of attempting to “hijack” a pharmaceutical bill, which is sponsored by Sen. David Sater (R-Cassville). He noted that the proposal could lead to children ending up in the emergency room for cannabis poisoning.
According to Holsman, his internal polling showed an overwhelming support for the legalization of medical cannabis in his district, as well as across Missouri. This, he pointed out, seemed to be an issue on which Missouri residents were ahead of their lawmakers.
“We need to open our eyes and emerge from the dark ages.” – Senator Rob Schaaf (R-St. Joseph)
Holsman also contended that he wanted to veer away from the discussion on the federal government’s War on Drugs and instead initiate a 21st-century discussion and debate regarding a regulated industry that seems to be working well in the country’s 29 other states. This discussion on cannabis is something that the citizens of Missouri need to have access to.
Onder stressed out that the U.S. federal government still classifies cannabis as a Schedule I drug, which means that the DEA considers it as having a high potential for abuse and a potential to cause severe physical and psychological dependence.
Onder said that all he was doing was to safeguard the Senate’s integrity.
Holsman told Onder that this was his chance, and that of other opponents, to have a say and a hand in shaping the state’s medical cannabis policy before voters take matters into their very own hands.
Senator Rob Schaaf (R-St. Joseph) agreed with Holsman and said that they need to open their eyes and emerge from the dark ages.
Meanwhile, Sen. Dan Brown (R-Rolla) took Onder’s side and said that cannabis could lead people to consume much more dangerous and damaging substances. He said that he still believes cannabis is a gateway drug.
The Senate eventually gave the original bill its initial approval after the amendment proposed by Holsman was dropped.