In the Nov. 6 election, Missouri could become the 32nd state in the nation to legalize medical marijuana. But first, voters must unravel a confusing tangle of three different medical marijuana questions on the ballot.
The triad of proposals likely will leave voters wondering: Should I vote to approve each of the three? Reject them all? Or come up with a combination of yes and no?
Here’s the short answer: Voters should approve Amendment 2 and reject Amendment 3 and Proposition C.
Now, here are more details:
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Each measure has an upside as well as some flaws. But Amendment 2 stands apart with clear guidelines for appropriate use. It would allow doctors to recommend medical marijuana as a treatment option for patients with serious and debilitating illnesses. Revenue from the 4 percent sales tax on medical marijuana would go to the Missouri Veterans Commission. That’s good public policy.
Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services would regulate licensing, cultivation, testing and the sale of medical marijuana under Amendment 2.
Amendment 3 would tax marijuana sales at a whopping 15 percent to fund a cancer research institute operated by Brad Bradshaw. The Springfield lawyer and physician would become the state’s de facto marijuana czar if Amendment 3 passes —an arrangement that raise numerous questions.
One person shouldn’t have this much decision-making authority, and Bradshaw’s proposal appears to be a power grab of sorts . He is the leading financier behind the amendment.
Unlike the proposed amendments, Proposition C would only change state law — not the Missouri Constitution. Medical marijuana would be taxed at 2 percent under the plan. The funds would be used for drug treatment, education and public safety. But there would not be enough revenue to have a significant impact in those areas.
And complicating matters, state lawmakers could overturn voter approval of Proposition C and kill the measure on arrival.
If all three proposals pass, the two constitutional amendments would supersede Proposition C. If both constitutional amendments pass, the one with the most yes votes becomes law.
Proponents say medical marijuana puts health care decisions back into the hands of doctors and their patients. The more treatments available, the better for those who are suffering, they say. We agree.
Supporters for the drug’s medical use also argue that it can reduce stress level for chronic illness. Additionally, they point out that it is significantly less destructive than either alcohol or tobacco.
Some medical professionals argue that not enough is known about the health risks of medical marijuana. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration should reduce its classification as a controlled substance to conduct scientific research to learn more, they say.
Opponents also fear that legalizing medical marijuana is the gateway to full legalization. Those are valid concerns. But 31 other states have approved medical marijuana; only nine of them allow the use of recreational marijuana. Missouri is a long way from going that route.
Legalizing medical marijuana at the state level does nothing to change its federal status. The possession, sale or cultivation of the drug would still be classified as a federal offense. And using or possessing marijuana for non-medical purposes is illegal.
Research has shown that marijuana can help alleviate an assortment of medical conditions and can allow individuals to live a more comfortable and pain-free life. Voters shouldn’t be against that.
Medical marijuana will continue to become legal across this country. Missouri voters should follow the lead of citizens in other states and legalize medical marijuana by approving Amendment 2 and rejecting Amendment 3 and Proposition C.