Missouri voters face 3 ballot choices on medical marijuana

November 6, 2018
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FILE - In this Aug. 24, 2017 file photo, Gennice Mackey uses a bullhorn to lead a chant of "Save the Raise!" outside a McDonald's restaurant in St. Louis. Missouri is notable for having three left-leaning proposals on its 2018 ballot _ raising the minimum wage, legalizing marijuana for medical purposes and changing the congressional redistricting process so that it is potentially less partisan. (AP Photo/Jim Salter)

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Missouri voters will decide on Tuesday whether to support one, two or three different options to allow medical marijuana for treatment of cancer, HIV and other conditions.

Three separate medical marijuana proposals are on the ballot, the result of three successful and unrelated petition drives.

They are among several issues confronting Missouri voters, who also will also vote on whether to gradually raise the state’s minimum wage to $12 an hour from the current $7.85 per hour; raise the state gas tax, currently 17 cents per gallon, by 10 cents per gallon to fund road and bridge improvements, and whether to create a new position of nonpartisan demographer to draw state House and Senate boundaries based on the 2020 Census.

Passage of any of the three medical marijuana issues would mean that Missouri becomes the 31st state to approve its use (Utah voters also are considering a medical marijuana ballot issue). Legislative researchers have estimated that more than $100 million worth of medical marijuana could be sold annually.

Two of the ballot measures are constitutional amendments and the other would change state law. Legal experts predict a court battle if more than one of the measures is approved.

Based on information from the Missouri Secretary of State’s office, constitutional amendments take precedence over the state law proposition, and if both constitutional amendments pass, the one with the most “yes” votes takes effect.

But among the unresolved issues: If a measure passes but is nevertheless trumped by one of the others, would its non-conflicting provisions also become law?

Constitutional Amendment 2, from a coalition of patients, doctors and veterans called New Approach Missouri, emphasizes the value of medical marijuana for veterans. Post-traumatic stress disorder is among the qualifying conditions, and a 4 percent sales tax goes to a newly-created fund for health and care services for veterans.

The competing constitutional change proposal, Amendment 3, was financed almost exclusively by Brad Bradshaw, a Springfield personal injury attorney and medical doctor. It’s funding mechanism: A 15 percent tax on the retail sale of marijuana as well as a wholesale tax on the sale of marijuana flowers and leaves. Those funds would be used to create a new state institute to research “presently incurable diseases.”

Opponents have criticized a provision giving Bradshaw broad powers over the new research institute, including choosing its board members.

Proposition C’s plan changes state law to impose a 2 percent tax on medical marijuana sales to be used for veteran services, drug treatment, early childhood education and public safety in cities with medical marijuana facilities. It was supported by Missourians for Patient Care, a political action committee that did not disclose its financial supporters.

Voters also will consider Amendment 1, which supporters say would make the state government more ethical.

Currently, state House and Senate districts are redrawn after each census by bipartisan commissions appointed by the governor. Nominees are submitted by the Democratic and Republican parties.

Amendment 1 would create a new position of nonpartisan state demographer who would propose maps to commissioners that reflect the parties’ share of the statewide vote in previous elections for president, governor and U.S. senator. Criteria of “partisan fairness” and “competitiveness” outrank more traditional criteria such as geographically compact districts.

The measure also seeks to reduce lobbyist influence and puts new limits on contributions to legislative candidates.

The campaign for the initiative is run by a Democratic consultant and has received money from groups that typically back Democrats. Some Republicans support the proposal, including former U.S. Sen. John Danforth. But others in the GOP believe it is a partisan effort to help Democrats gain ground on Republicans, who hold supermajorities in the state House and Senate.


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