Will Missouri Become the Next State to Legalize Medical Marijuana – Part II

On November 6th, 2018, Missouri voters will decide whether or not the use of medical marijuana to treat approved conditions becomes legal. There are three marijuana initiatives on the ballot – Constitutional Amendment Two, Constitutional Amendment Three and Proposition “C”. A vote for “Yes” on any of the three ballot initiatives would legalize medical marijuana. Each initiative has differences and we previously discussed Amendment Two in our last post. Today we focus on Amendment Three.

Amendment Three proposes to

  • legalize marijuana for medical purposes;
  • tax marijuana sales at 15 percent; and
  • spend tax revenue to establish and fund a Biomedical Research and Drug Development Institute to research cures for cancer and other diseases and oversee state’s medical marijuana program.
  • Enact cultivation taxes on marijuana flowers ($9.25 per ounce) and on marijuana leaves ($2.75 per ounce).

If the amendment is passed, any changes would require a simple majority vote by the legislature after which the changes would be referred to the voting ballot for the public to decide. The ballot would legalize medical marijuana for ten qualifying conditions plus others with doctor’s approval. The research institute would be empowered to add additional conditions to the list of qualifying conditions. The current approved conditions are:

  • cancer,
  • epilepsy,
  • glaucoma,
  • intractable migraines unresponsive to other treatments,
  • a chronic medical conditions that causes severe, persistent pain or persistent muscle spasms, including multiple sclerosis, seizures, Parkinson’s disease and Tourette’s syndrome,
  • debilitating psychiatric disorders such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, if diagnosed by a state licensed psychiatrist,
  • HIV or AIDS,
  • any terminal illness,
  • a chronic medical condition normally treated via prescription medication that a physician determines could be treated with medical marijuana, or any other chronic, debilitating or other medical condition such as ALS, Crohns disease, autism, hepatitis C, and others that a physician determines could be treated with medical marijuana.

Patients would be allowed to purchase 3 ounces of dried marijuana or equivalent in 30-day period (more permitted with written certification from two independent physicians). The ballot initiative would authorize not less than two dispensaries per 20,000 residents in counties and cities.

The Amendment would also create the Biomedical Research and Drug Development Institute as a new government institution. Its purpose would be researching cures for diseases and generating income from any of the cures it develops. Cures would be available to state residents at no costs. The institute would be governed by a nine-member board, with each board member receiving annual salaries at least equivalent to the Chief Justice of the Missouri Supreme Court.

Revenue from the sale of any cures developed by the Institute would be distributed as follows:

  • 50 percent for the institute’s administration and research on diseases;
  • 25 percent as income-tax refunds for citizens who paid income taxes the previous year;
  • 6.25 percent for repairing state roads and bridges;
  • 6.25 percent for funding public pre-school and K-12 education and provide grants to in-state students of state universities;
  • 6.25 percent for funding medical care for state residents; and
  • 6.25 percent for the public employee retirement trust fund.

Amendment Three places a fifteen percent sales tax on medical cannabis and is expected to generate $66 million annually for the state and local government with costs estimated to reach approximately $500,000. The tax revenue generated would be utilized to assist veterans with healthcare, job training, housing and other services.

As noted above, the Biomedical Research and Drug Development Institute would be tasked with regulating the new industry. The proposed amendment would allow local governments to prohibit facilities and dispensaries through a simple majority vote of voters

Find the Cures endorsed Amendment Three as “a Missouri Constitutional Amendment to legalize medical marijuana and use taxes generated from its sale to fund medical research for cancer and other incurable diseases, and the profits from the research to effectively eliminate state income tax, provide positive economic growth, support education and more.”

If all three proposed bills receive a majority vote, only one will be enacted. Missouri state law holds that a constitutional amendment takes precedence over a proposition (i.e. Amendment Two or Three would take precedence over Prop. “C”), but if both amendment two and three are approved by voters the amendment with the majority of votes would be enacted.

This is the second of our reviews of the proposed medical marijuana changes pending in Missouri during the upcoming November 6th election. Each of the proposals has their pros and cons. Please check our blog for updates and remain informed as to your choices in the upcoming election and going forward.

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