Mark Reardon Show: Medical Marijuana Issues on November Ballot

Description

In September we lost a friend of the Mark Reardon Show. Bob Bareford, a radar tech who was in the D-Day invasion, passed away at the age of 97. We get a closer look at the medical marijuana issues on the November ballot in Missouri with Jack Cardetti on Amendment 2, Travis Brown on Proposition C, and Dr. Brad Bradshaw on Amendment 3.

SOURCE LINK: omny.fm

Secret donations pour in for medical marijuana push in Missouri

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — An organization backing one of three competing medical marijuana initiatives in Missouri has continued to bring in large contributions despite the origins of most of the haul being kept secret.

The Missourians for Patient Care campaign committee raised $530,000 in monetary contributions between April and July, about $505,000 of which was funneled from a nonprofit corporation with the same name. The nonprofit isn’t required to reveal its donors, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

The committee also accepted more than $16,000 in in-kind contributions from the nonprofit that quarter. An additional $36,800 came from in-kind donations from First Rule, a firm listing the same address as the nonprofit and campaign committee.

Card-carrying medical marijuana patients eager to learn more about Kief, shown in jar, at Los Angeles’ first-ever cannabis farmer’s market at the West Coast Collective medical marijuana dispensary, on July 4, 2014. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

Previous secret donations to the group were part of a March complaint to the Missouri Ethics Commission by Howard Cotner, a Springfield resident.

Cotner said the maneuver violated the Missouri Constitution by intentionally obscuring the source of donations. The ethics commission hasn’t issued any findings on the complaint.

“We needed to raise money so have a social welfare organization that supports the ballot committee,” said Travis Brown, one of the main backers of the campaign effort.

Brown declined to comment whether he thought the group’s activities violated the law.

The newspaper reported in February that the group believes the secrecy is necessary because donors might be hesitant to contribute to a cause not recognized by the federal government.

“We set it up that way because most people who are supporters of it don’t want to be known,” said Mark Habbas, a lobbyist on the campaign. “They just want to keep their donations private.”

The proposal would change state rules to legalize marijuana for medical use in helping to treat cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder, HIV/AIDS, terminal illness and intractable migraines. Two other groups collected signatures to place medical marijuana initiatives on the ballot. The secretary of state’s office will certify signatures by mid-August and announce which groups gathered enough to make the November ballot.

SOURCE LINK: fox4kc.com

Competing plans complicate medical pot legalization

Passage of one or more of the medical marijuana proposals on the Nov. 6 ballot will create a new industry in Missouri for entrepreneurs who want to grow, process, test and sell smoking and edible products.

Those interested will need to have a large cash investment to start, both for license fees and to establish their businesses. They will also have to wait to see which of the three plans for licensing and regulation is approved. If more than one passes, the size of the majorities and the way they are written will determine which one takes effect. Missouri would be the 32nd state to legalize medical marijuana.

Those regulatory differences are among the main points of controversy between the three campaigns. Over the next month, Missourians will see an escalating war of words in an unusual three-way battle in which the object will be as much to depress the “yes” votes on other proposals as it is aimed at outright defeat of competitors.

Voters will see the measures as Amendment 2, Amendment 3 and Proposition C. Explaining which one rules is like describing playoff scenarios late in a sports season.

If one amendment passes and the other fails, it will take effect regardless of whether Proposition C passes. If both amendments pass, the one with the most votes wins. Proposition C will be law only if it passes and both amendments fail.

That makes supporters of the two amendments the most antagonistic toward each other, with backers of Proposition C soft on their differences with Amendment 2 and making similar attacks on Amendment 3.

Amendment 2, an initiative from New Approach Missouri, has roots in the groups that have long advocated for relaxation of marijuana laws. Amendment 3 is being financed by Springfield doctor and attorney Brad Bradshaw through a committee called Find the Cures. Proposition C’s campaign is called Missourians for Patient Care.

Columbia attorney Dan Viets, president of the campaign’s board of directors, said Amendment 3 is designed to put Bradshaw in charge of deciding who gets a license and how the tax money raised by sales is spent.

“The important point is that anybody who wants a license is going to be at the mercy of Brad Bradshaw and his gang of four,” Viets said.

Bradshaw, in turn, charges in commercials that Amendment 2 is a cover to make black-market pot growing and sales impossible to prosecute.

“Amendment 2 is a get out of jail free card,” Bradshaw says in one commercial.

He also is firing back at Proposition C.

Amendment 2 can function as well as Proposition C and may be compatible, allowing both to take effect, said Mark Habbas, spokesman for Proposition C.

“The Bradshaw Amendment is the one that scares everybody because you have one guy who created this thing and could be the drug czar of the industry,” he said.

Business basics

Amendment 2 has the cheapest application and license fees and is the only proposal allowing outdoor growing and home-grown marijuana so consumers can bypass retail purchasing. It is also the only proposal that does not have a mechanism for local votes on whether to allow growers and dispensaries in a political subdivision.

It requires a minimum of 24 dispensaries per congressional district, or one for each county in the Fourth Congressional District, which includes Audrain, Boone, Cooper, Howard, Moniteau and Randolph counties.

“Amendment 2 is completely centered around what is best for Missouri patients,” campaign spokesman Jack Cardetti said. “That is the real difference here. We wanted to make sure cancer patients, epilepsy patients and others have access to safe, responsible marijuana.”

Amendment 3 allows the largest minimum number of growing and dispensary licenses. It requires at least two dispensary licenses for every 20,000 residents of a county and at least two in counties with fewer than 20,000 people. That would allow Boone County at least eight dispensaries, with most surrounding counties eligible for two to four dispensaries.

A local government can request more licenses and, by a ballot measure passing with a majority vote, ask that no cultivation or dispensary businesses be established. The vote is not binding on the Board of Biomedical Research and Drug Development, created by Amendment 3 as the licensing agency and dispenser of tax revenue to medical research activities.

“They could have the vote but ultimately the discretion would be with board,” Bradshaw said in an interview.

“I wouldn’t see why they wouldn’t,” Bradshaw said when asked if he expects the board to honor local bans.

Proposition C has the smallest minimum number of dispensaries and fees set between those charged for Amendment 2 licenses, the cheapest, and the costlier Amendment 3 licenses. It allows a binding local vote banning dispensaries but requires a two-thirds majority to pass.

The regulatory schemes established by each proposal offer licenses for cultivation, testing, edible and infused product manufacturing and retailing. Each gives licensing responsibility to a different agency. Amendment 2 gives the job to the Department of Health and Senior Services. Amendment 3 creates the research board. Proposition C makes the Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control in the Department of Public Safety the licensing authority.

The division already supervises the distribution and sale of regulated products, Habbas said. That experience means it can move quickly to implement the law.

“You really have no idea how important the regulatory compliance measures are and the need to be under the proper authority in the state of Missouri,” Habbas said.

Who gets licenses

With potentially hundreds of licenses available, each proposal tries to set limits on ownership, both on the number of licenses and participation by investors from outside the state.

The loosest residency and outside investor rules are in Amendment 2. To receive a license, a sole proprietor would have to be a resident of Missouri for one year and a business entity would have to be at least 50 percent owned by Missouri residents of at least one year. Each cultivator could have three licenses and each dispensary could have five.

“I expect there will be a lot who will try” for licenses, Viets said. “It is really fundamentally like any other business.”

Amendment 2′s rules mean a lot of out-of-state investment will flow into Missouri and the rules are silent about limiting ownership of multiple business entities, each with the maximum number of licenses, Bradshaw said. The major backers of Proposition C are former beer executives and by using the agency they know will have an advantage, he added.

“That is a bunch of retired alcohol executives, they know the people there, and they are going to have the monopoly,” he said.

There are no guarantees with using existing state regulators to run the program, Habbas said.

“Nobody in the state of Missouri knows how the division is going to allocate licenses,” he said.

Amendment 3 has the strictest residency and ownership rules. A sole proprietor must be a resident for three years and a business entity would have to be at least 70 percent owned by state residents of three years. It allows cultivators three licenses for large establishments and five for small establishments growing with a research purpose. Dispensary owners could have five licenses but no more than 50 percent of the licenses in any county.

Because Amendment 3 puts Bradshaw in charge of selecting the first research board, he will control who gets licenses, Habbas said.

“If there is any initiative that almost monopolizes or can guarantee licenses, it is Bradshaw’s” he said.

Amendment 3 allows more cultivators and more dispensaries than either of the others, Bradshaw said. It requires at least half of the licenses to go to applicants who meet the basic regulatory requirements and the rest to go to operators who will participate in research.

“If there are no disqualifying offenses, a person will get the license,” Bradshaw said.

Under Proposition C, only operators who receive cultivation licenses will be able to operate dispensaries, up to three locations for each growing operation. It will require the largest investment to participate in the market.

The plan is to have a verifiable product, Habbas said.

“It is a vertically integrated model that puts responsibility on the grower to provide good, clean cannabis to the patient,” he said.

SOURCE LINK: columbiatribune.com

Inform Your Vote: Understanding Missouri’s 2018 ballot measures

Join St. Louis on the Air for a free public forum (registration encouraged, as space is limited) at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 24 offering community members insight into four of the big decisions Missouri voters face this fall.

Taking place inside St. Louis Public Radio’s first-floor Community Room, the event will feature in-depth discussions with proponents and opponents of several key issues on the November 2018 ballot. Host Don Marsh will moderate the conversations.

Audience members will have an opportunity at the event to submit questions for potential inclusion in the dialogue. The discussions will be recorded to later air on St. Louis on the Air in the days leading up to the midterm election.

The four topics and associated panelists are as follows:

Proposition DThe Gas Tax Increase, Olympic Prize Tax Exemption, and Traffic Reduction Fund Measure

Proponent Scott Charton

Opponent Gwen Moore

Amendment 1: The Lobbying, Campaign Finance, and Redistricting Initiative

Proponent Benjamin Singer

Opponent Jim Talent 

Proposition BThe $12 Minimum Wage Initiative

Proponent Richard von Glahn

Opponent Ray McCarty

Amendment 2Amendment 3 and Proposition CEach would legalize medical marijuana

Proponent of Amendment 2 Jack Cardetti

Proponent of Amendment 3 Brad Bradshaw

Proponent of Proposition C Mike Colona

Opponent of the three measures Brandon Costerison

Event Information

What: Inform Your Vote: Understanding Missouri’s 2018 Ballot Issues

When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Where: St. Louis Public Radio (3651 Olive St., St. Louis MO 63108)

Registration encouraged, as space is limited, at stlpublicradio.org/ballot.

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Alex HeuerEvie HemphillLara Hamdan and Xandra Ellin give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

SOURCE LINK: kbia.org

Missouri Has Three Legalization Measures. Two Are Very Odd

Imagine you’re a Missouri voter who pays scant attention to the news and tends to wing it when you show up to cast your ballot. Now imagine that on Nov. 6, upon sauntering up to the voting machine, you are pleasantly surprised to find that you’re being asked to vote on the legalization of medical marijuana.
“Regardless of whether any or all of these is passed, it’s a great day for Missouri voters because they have a choice.”
Travis Brown, Proposition C spokesperson
Specifically, Amendment 2 asks you whether you are in favor of altering the state constitution to allow doctors to selectively prescribe cannabis, the sales of which would be taxed at 4%. Easy choice, right?

Except—wait.

Moving down through the ballot, you find another initiative: Amendment 3.

That one also asks for your vote on a constitutional amendment for medical marijuana. Amendment 3 would tax cannabis at a rate of 15%.

Now you’re thinking, Do I vote for just one, or both?

And that’s when things really get confusing, because continuing on, you find yet another ballot initiative, Proposition C, which would create a state law allowing doctors to prescribe cannabis. That proposal, known as the Missourians for Patient Care Act, calls for a 2% tax.

What gives?

The Tyranny of Choice

Let’s start with the obvious: Choice is good. The fact that cannabis has reached the ballot at all, much less three times, in a stridently red state like Missouri: also good. As Travis Brown, a spokesman for the third initiative, rather magnanimously puts it, “Regardless of whether any or all of these is passed, it’s a great day for Missouri voters because they have a choice.”

That said, social scientists have identified what they call “the tyranny of choice” as a growing source of angst in our society. Although it’s clearly preferable to have some choice rather than none, more choice isn’t necessarily better. For one thing, you feel anxious about making the wrong decision.

In this case, the abundance of options is unlike anything folks in the national advocacy movement have seen before. Other states have put two competing medical cannabis initiatives before the voters—most recently Arkansas in 2016—but there have never been three.

“It’s certainly unconventional,” says Matt Schweich, deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “And it makes it a little more challenging in terms of getting medical marijuana passed.”

Dan Viets of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) chuckles at the surreal nature of it. “I don’t believe it’s ever happened before on any issue,” he says. “It’s certainly a strange thing.”

We’re here, then, to clarify what’s going on.

Amendment 2

Let’s start with the first initiative on the ballot. Amendment 2 is the brainchild of New Approach Missouri, a coalition of patients, doctors, and veterans who are pitching a straight-down-the-middle concept: Doctors would be able to prescribe cannabis for one of 10 medical conditions, including cancer, PTSD, chronic pain, and Parkinson’s.

Amendment 2: Just like other legal medical marijuana states.

“We have one simple goal, and that’s to make Missouri the 31st state with medical marijuana,” says Jack Cardetti, spokesman for New Approach Missouri. The same organization came within 23 signatures of introducing a similar ballot initiative in 2016, and has had a couple of years to study other states’ successes and struggles with cannabis legislation.

Several provisions speak to New Approach Missouri’s quest to make its approach palatable to a heartland sensibility. Some of the tax revenues would be funneled into veteran’s programs. Patients would be able to grow their own plants, but only in a state-registered facility that would extract a $100 license fee. Many of the provisions mirror similar efforts in Colorado and other states that have successfully adopted medical cannabis laws.

Amendment 3

All of this looks even more straightforward in comparison to Amendment 3, which was hatched by a Springfield attorney and physician named Brad Bradshaw.

Amendment 3: The Brad Bradshaw amendment.

His proposal, nicknamed the Bradshaw Amendment, would funnel the haul from its eye-popping 15% tax into the creation of a research institute that would aim to “develop cures for cancer and other incurable diseases or medical conditions.”

Bradshaw wrote the amendment. Bradshaw picked up the million-plus-dollar tab to put the measure on the ballot and advertise it. And Bradshaw stands to be the prime beneficiary if it passes, by appointing himself the head of the facility that would rake in revenues of around $66 million, according to the Missouri Secretary of State’s office.

If that strikes you as a touch bombastic, you’re not off the mark: In one of his video advertisements, Bradshaw appears in an operating room in scrubs, equating his proposed research facility to the projects that put a man on the moon and built the atomic bomb.

Amendment 3, in other words, is the marijuana-policy equivalent of a vanity plate.

“It’s a surreal contrast,” Cardetti says. “Amendment 2 is [advocates] looking out for the patients of Missouri, and Amendment 3 is Brad Bradshaw looking out for himself.”

Viets also pointed out that the 15 percent medical cannabis tax—which would be the highest of its kind in the nation—will be a deal-breaker for a lot of potential patients. “It kind of defeats the whole purpose of legalization,” he says. “People are just going to go back to buying it from the black market.”

Bradshaw, in turn, argues that Amendment 2 will be torpedoed because Missourians don’t want people to be able to grow their own cannabis. “It’s destined for failure,” he tells Leafly. And he accuses the New Approach Missouri team of being deceitful—that its 4% tax will effectively be higher than his 15% after adding in local sales taxes and other levies. (The Secretary of State’s office estimates that Amendment 2 would bring in $24 million, about two-thirds less than what Amendment 3 would generate.)

“They’re upset that I’m exposing them,” Bradshaw says. “I’ve actually gotten death threats.”

Bradshaw contends that he won’t benefit personally, and points out wording on the ballot petition that his temporary position as coordinator of the research facility would be unpaid. “This will be the best medical marijuana law in the United States,” he says.

Proposition C

Proposition C, meanwhile, would create a new law rather than an ironclad amendment to the state constitution. That means it could be tweaked and changed later by state legislators.

Prop C: Travis Brown’s mystery law. Who’s behind it? Nobody but Brown seems to know.

Travis Brown, a lobbyist whose PR firm spearheaded the petition drive for Prop C, aka the Patient Care Act, says that’s partly the point. His measure “is more flexible,” he says. “We felt that the probability that everything will be implemented perfectly—which has not happened in other states—will be pretty low, and the probability that you might need to tweak the thing in three to five years might be pretty high.”

Brown says his organization has focused on adopting lessons learned elsewhere to “attract an investor class that will actually commit to the Midwest.”

Which is where things get interesting with Prop C. Brown has declined to reveal the identities of board of directors and other financial backers behind the Patient Care Act, which has generated a stir in Missouri media. Proposition C is being operated as a 501(c)4, a nonprofit organization whose primary purpose is social welfare, and as such is not required to reveal who’s writing the checks.

Brown again declined to name names to Leafly. Asked whether he gets the sense that voters are OK with not knowing who’s bankrolling the plan, Brown said, “I get the sense they will do anything to vote for medical cannabis and have access to it.” He added that Missourians are “more interested in full legalization than I would’ve thought two years ago.”

What Are National Groups Doing?

As the mainstream choice, Amendment 2 has earned the backing of national advocacy organizations, including the Marijuana Policy Project, the Drug Policy Alliance, and NORML. “It draws on best practices from other states,” says Schweich of the MPP. “And it doesn’t make the tax rate so high so that patients can’t afford to take part.”

Cardetti says the New Approach Missouri folks are comfortable that voters—already primed in Missouri for one of the nation’s most fiercely contested Senate races—understand the choices. Ballot placement also matters. As the top choice on the ballot, Amendment 2 will be in a strong position. With its early push and grassroots organization, New Approach was able to turn in its petitions first and thus earn the top spot on the ballot, which Cardetti believes will pay dividends on Election Day.

What if All of Them Pass?

If voters give a thumbs-up to all three initiatives? It’s both straightforward and not.

By state law, the constitutional amendment that draws the larger number of “yes” votes wins. In that way, the contest is ultimately between New Approach and Bradshaw. That winner, because of its standing as a constitutional amendment, would also trump the statutory Missourians for Patient Care Act.

Brown contends there’s value in voting for Proposition C as a “safety valve, in the event that there’s an unexpected outcome from the constitutional amendments that are fighting”—in other words, if Bradshaw wins.

But Viets of NORML says the problem with Prop C is that any law can be undone by the legislature. “They will repeal—they’ll just gut it,” he says. “They do not care what voters think.”

The takeaway is that if you live in Missouri and care about medical cannabis, show up to vote—and don’t wing it.

SOURCE LINK: leafly.com

Missouri voters set to decide state regulations on medical marijuana, White House announces new federal regulations may be on horizon

President Donald Trump has recently made statements that he will likely support a bill proposed by Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, which leaves the decision to legalize marijuana up to the states, instead of having the decision made on a federal level.
On the upcoming November 6 ballot in Missouri, there are three initiatives up for vote that approach the use of medical marijuana, Amendment 2 and 3, and Proposition C.

The use of medical marijuana is always up for debate, from Average Joe to policymakers, it can be hard to know where to land on the issue. According to Harvard Medical School, medical marijuana has many benefits to patients and the general public, including pain relief for diseases such as multiple sclerosis, which can also decrease the use of opioids, and reduce tremors from diseases like Parkinson’s. The laws on marijuana possession are stricter in Missouri than other states. Possession of anything less than 35 grams results in a Class A misdemeanor (up to one year prison time), sale in less than 5 grams is a Class C felony (up to 7 years prison time), and trafficking of any amount of marijuana can get you up to 10 years prison time.

Amendment 2 allows in-home growing of medical marijuana to create a statewide system of growth. It allows up to six plants per household, and claims that it still pushes a public safety mission, as it “maintains the current prohibition on public use and driving under the influence.”

Before patients have the ability to grow six plants, they must get permission from their physicians and acquire an Identification Card. The card expires after 12 months and has an annual fee of $100.00. The ability to home grow will allow easier access for those patients who need their prescription consistently.

“We are focused only on the patients and what is easiest access for them,” Jack Cardetti, the general consultant for New Approach, said. New Approach’s website states that they are, “the campaign to allow patients with debilitating medical conditions to use medical marijuana under the supervision of their doctors.”

Amendment 2 would leave all responsibility of prescription use to state-licensed physicians, and claims it does not want to include any politicians or bureaucrats on the amendment. The amendment will have a four percent tax rate, and claims that they will, “use funds from these taxes for health and care services for military veterans by the Missouri Veterans Commission.”

New Approach also “allows the Department of Health and Senior Services to institute a seed-to-sale tracking system to ensure that the product and money do not reach the illicit market.” They do not want their amendment to move into recreational use, and “want to focus on medical use only.”

They have stated opposition against Amendment Three proposed by Brad Bradshaw, a licensed physician, surgeon, and lawyer.

“Amendment 3 is all about getting more power for Bradshaw, and ignores the care for patients,” Cardetti said. “He is imposing a 15 percent tax rate, which is currently the highest retail tax rate in the country: from all 30 states that have legal retail sale of medical marijuana.”

According to Washington State laws, however, marijuana for medical and recreational use is legal, and currently holds a 37 percent tax rate on people who sell marijuana. If you are registered patient selling and consuming marijuana, you are exempt from eight percent of that retail sales tax, but that still holds you at a 29 percent retail tax rate.

“The four percent tax rate that Amendment 2 is proposing is not a transparent tax, which means they could add on all kinds of taxes. It could be about 20-30 percent when it’s all finished,” Bradshaw said.

Bradshaw asked that voters look at states like Colorado who currently have home-grown laws, but are looking to scale them back substantially. Initially, Colorado had home-grow laws that allowed people to grow any amount marijuana in their homes. Since August, however, they’ve set in place ordinance that limits home-growth to 12 plants per household.

“Home-grown laws might bring in criminal elements,” Bradshaw said. “It’s never going to pass. It’s dead on arrival.”

Bradshaw said that he wants to make something that is, “probable to pass,” and that he is, “just trying to do the right thing,” and do what he considers is best for the patients.

Bradshaw’s higher tax rate will help fund a board to research the benefits and cures that medical marijuana can give patients. “It will be illegal to make money off of the research we are going to be doing,” notes Bradshaw.

Although Bradshaw will lead the board in the beginning, the lawyer’s initial involvement will be unpaid; he said he will be only trying to appoint people that have the best interest in medical research and the patients.

“I find it disgusting that people in this country would rather monopolize the use of medical marijuana, when we could be finding cures for cancer,” Bradshaw said.

On this ballot there will also be Proposition C, which was initiated by the Missouri for Patient Care foundation, and is also going to propose a legalization of medical marijuana.

The Missouri for Patient Care foundation is mainly backed by Pelopidas LLC, whose CEO is Travis Brown. Pelopidas LLC has been linked to Rex Sinquefield, active in Missouri politics and one of the founders of the Show-Me Institute.

Proposition C would look into legalizing medical marijuana, focusing on care for patients. Each patient could have 2.5 oz. of the cannabis flower or a 14-day supply, but would have a possession limit of a 60-day supply, whatever that may be per patient.

This proposition would also have a two percent tax on the retail sale of medical marijuana, and would “use the funds from this tax for veteran services, drug treatment, early childhood education, and for public safety in cities with a medical marijuana facility.”

Proposition C would “task the state Senior Services and Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control and Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services with overseeing and regulating the state’s medical marijuana program.”

The responsibility would not be put on the physicians, unlike both Amendment 2 and Amendment 3. It is similar to Amendment 3, however, in the sense that home-grow will also be completely prohibited, which means that Amendment 2 will be the only initiative that allows their patients to cultivate their medication at home.

If all of these measures pass, the one with the overall highest votes will continue forward.

SOURCE LINK: northeastnews.net

A look at Missouri’s 3 medical marijuana ballot questions and lessons from Colorado

The question of whether Missouri should legalize medical marijuana is personal for Pam Whiting.

Whiting, the vice president of communications for the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, had a sister who was diagnosed with epilepsy at a young age. Traditional medicine failed her.

“Her seizures were uncontrolled throughout her life despite a whole series of different medication regimes,” Whiting said. “The medicines she was given turned her from a bright and curious child to dull, listless, and unable to achieve in school. She was unable to hold a job and unable to drive.”

Whiting said she often wonders now what kind of life her sister might have had if she could have tried using marijuana to quell her seizures.

With three medical marijuana questions on the ballot in Missouri next month, The Star’s readers wanted to know whether the 51 influential Missourians participating in the Missouri Influencers project think marijuana should be legal for medical use. Readers also wanted to know whether employers should continue to screen for marijuana if it is legalized.

Whiting, an Influencer, was part of the majority in favor of Missouri joining 30 other states that have legalized marijuana for medical use. The group included two former Missouri governors, Democrats Jay Nixon and Bob Holden.

“If we allow alcohol, we should allow marijuana,” Holden said.

But the dissenting voices included Children’s Mercy Hospital chief toxicologist Jennifer Lowry, the Influencer with the deepest knowledge of cannabis’ effects on the human body.

“Currently, cannabinoid biology is poorly understood,” Lowry said. “Research has identified areas of therapeutic potential for these molecules, including analgesia in chronic neuropathic pain, appetite stimulation in debilitating disease, and spasticity in multiple sclerosis. However, adverse effects can also occur, ranging from benign (tachycardia and palpitations) to serious (mood, anxiety, and thought disorders).”

Doctors’ orders

Marijuana has been a feature of folk medicine for thousands of years, but modern research studies are complicated in the United States by the drug’s status as a Schedule 1 controlled substance at the federal level.

Some research shows chemical compounds found in marijuana can be effective for treating certain conditions. The Food and Drug Administration has actually approved medications based on synthetic or natural versions of those compounds, like a drug called Epidiolex for persistent seizures and Marinol for nausea and appetite loss.

But when it comes to using “whole plant” cannabis to treat disease, Lowry’s opinion is not an outlier among physicians. Doctors would be the gatekeepers to medical marijuana if Missouri voters approve it, but all three ballot measures are opposed by several major medical groups in Missouri, including the ones that represent physicians in Kansas City, St. Louis and statewide.

They say that although certain parts of the cannabis plant have legitimate medical uses, broad-based medical marijuana programs like the ones proposed in Missouri provide access to products that aren’t sold in standard dosages or purities.

Essentially, patients don’t know what they’re getting, so it’s impossible for doctors to gauge the risks versus the benefits.

John Hagan, an ophthalmologist and past president of the Kansas City Medical Society, said cannabis-based treatments should come in standardized products tested by the FDA, just like other drugs.

“Approving medical treatments by ballot initiatives sets a dangerous precedent for public health,” Hagan said.

But if results in other states are any indication, Missourians will probably opt to approve medical marijuana, which would raise new questions about how to regulate it.

The 3 ballot questions

Nine marijuana initiatives appeared on statewide ballots in 2016 and all but one was approved. While the measures used to pop up mainly in Democratic-leaning states, they’ve since become bipartisan. Earlier this year voters in Oklahoma, arguably the reddest state in the union, overwhelmingly passed a broad-based medical marijuana program, sending regulators scrambling to create rules for implementing it.

Ironically, legalization efforts in Missouri could be thwarted because there are so many on the ballot. It’s highly unusual, if not unprecedented, to have voters evaluating three separate questions at the same time. If they split votes, it’s possible none of them will pass.

The three proposals are:

▪  Amendment 2: a change to the state constitution that would allow doctors to prescribe cannabis for a slate of 10 medical conditions.

▪  Amendment 3: a change to the state constitution proposed by Springfield physician/lawyer Brad Bradshaw that would create a medical marijuana research institution that Bradshaw would lead, at least temporarily. Bradshaw recently came under fire for having about $100,000 in unpaid state and federal taxes, which he said stem from a mistake by the IRS and his accountant.

▪  Proposition C: a change to state law that is similar to Amendment 2, but with different taxation levels and, because it’s a statute rather than a constitutional amendment, the legislature would be able to change it.

If both of the constitutional amendments pass, the one with more votes will be enacted. The amendments would supersede Proposition C if it and either amendment pass or all three pass.

If medical marijuana passes

If any of the measures pass, regulators will face new questions about who should be able to use medical marijuana and in what settings.

Lowry said it shouldn’t be used by anyone under 21 because marijuana can impair brain development.

Colorado Springs doctor Kenn Finn said Missourians should be aware that marijuana-related traffic deaths are rising in his state, which has also legalized the drug for recreational use.

Finn said “it’s very tricky” to determine when someone has consumed too much THC — the compound in marijuana that causes a high — to safely drive. There’s no breath test for it. Colorado uses a blood test and has set a legal limit of 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood.

“Which is difficult to rely on because that doesn’t necessarily mean somebody is impaired,” Finn said.

Finn said Colorado has also learned that the environmental costs of legalization can be high, because marijuana is an energy- and water-intensive crop.

Some of the Influencers identified other challenges the state will face if the ballot initiatives pass.

Political strategist James Harris said the continued federal prohibition of marijuana poses several potential problems.

“The businesses involved in the (marijuana) industry have to operate as cash businesses, because banks will not allow them to set up accounts due to federal regulations,” Harris said. “A high-volume cash industry has the potential to be a magnet for crime.”

There are also questions about how federal law enforcement would handle those who use or sell legal medical marijuana.

William Callahan, the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s regional office in St. Louis, said the agency doesn’t prioritize arresting people who sell medical marijuana as long as they’re following state laws and not letting their products flood into other states. And it’s not interested in cracking down on simple possession.

“DEA does not target the user, and that cuts across all sorts of drugs,” Callahan said. “The DEA targets those organizations, those individuals that choose to sell illegal drugs, that choose to prey on those who are addicted.”

But Callahan, like Hagan, said people should only use cannabis compounds in FDA-approved medications. He said the DEA has approved more than 700 marijuana-related research studies to determine potential health risks and benefits.

Employer drug screening

The Influencers were split on whether employers should continue to screen for marijuana if it’s legalized for medical use.

Chris Maples, interim chancellor at Missouri University of Science and Technology, said medical marijuana should be legal because it shows promise in treating certain conditions, but more research is needed.

“I believe some employers should continue to screen for medical marijuana if it is legalized, especially if there is the possibility of any impaired judgment or action,” Maples said. “Until we actually conduct appropriate research on the effects of medical marijuana, including potential side effects, it would be prudent to continue screening.”

But Ken Novak, a professor of criminal justice and criminology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said it wouldn’t be appropriate for employers to test for marijuana if their workers might be using it legally for medical purposes.

“The reason is patient privacy — if employers were able to screen for medical use, then they may be able to logically assume the employee is being treated for some disease,” Novak said, citing epilepsy and post-traumatic stress disorder as potential examples. “Assuming the employer has no business determining whether employees have these afflictions, then screening for drugs associated with alleviating the symptoms is legally problematic.”

SOURCE LINK: kansascity.com

Senator Munzlinger Urges Missourians to Vote No on Amendment 3

JEFFERSON CITY — On Nov. 6, Missourians will be asked to change state law to allow the legalization of medical marijuana.

“While I haven’t taken a position on any of the three proposals until now, I find several provisions in Amendment 3 very troubling,” said Sen. Munzlinger, chairman of the Missouri Senate Agriculture, Food Production and Outdoor Resources Committee. “Most concerning is language that threatens private property owners by abusing eminent domain laws and actually expanding the power of eminent domain in our Missouri Constitution for a research campus. No one should be allowed to take your property without your consent and just compensation. For that reason, I urge my fellow Missourians to vote NO on Amendment 3.”

The specific language in Section 6, subsection (i) states: As funds become available, the Land Acquisition Board shall have authority to negotiate, acquire, and purchase property for the research campus. The Land Acquisition Board may use any and all legal means to acquire and purchase such property for the campus.

Senator Munzlinger is a third-generation Missouri farmer. He is also a 1978 graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia with a BS Degree in General Agriculture and a teaching certificate in Agriculture. Senator Munzlinger is a proud member of the Missouri Farm Bureau, Missouri Corn Growers Association, Missouri Soybean Association, Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, NFIB, State Fair Foundation, University of Missouri Alumni Association and a life member of the National Rifle Association. Senator Munzlinger also serves on the advisory board to the University of Missouri’s Greenley Research Center and the board of directors for the NEMO Grain Processors Co-op.

SOURCE LINK: www.senate.mo.gov

Washington Post: Marijuana use is now as common among baby boomers as it is among teens, federal data shows

Talk to your grandparents about marijuana — before somebody else does.

The latest release of a massive federal drug use survey shows monthly marijuana use has skyrocketed among older Americans. The past decade, in fact, has seen a sea change in the demographics of marijuana use: As recently as the early 2000s, teens were more than four times more likely to use marijuana than 50- and 60-somethings. But as of 2017, Americans ages 55 to 64 are now slightly more likely to smoke pot on a monthly basis than teens ages 12 to 17. That difference is within the survey’s margin of error.

The oldest age group — seniors age 65 and older — has seen steep increases in marijuana use, as well. In the mid-2000s, monthly marijuana use among this group was effectively at zero percent. As of last year, 2.4 percent of seniors used marijuana monthly, and nearly 4 percent were using on at least an annual basis.

Federal data showed that marijuana use among middle-aged Americans surpassed teen use several years ago, which underscores a point that often gets lost in contemporary debate about marijuana legalization: While debates about marijuana use tend to focus on the drug’s effects on young people, marijuana use is becoming more concentrated among older Americans. The effects of long-term marijuana use among that cohort are less understood.

There are a number of factors driving these trends. Nine states plus the District have legalized marijuana for adult recreational use since 2012. It’s only natural that those laws would boost use among older Americans while having little effect among younger ones.

The legalization wave happens to be happening as baby boomers are entering their golden years. The boomers were big supporters (and users of) pot in the late ’60s and ’70s, and it seems that many are using their retirement years to revisit some of the mind-altering experiences of their youth.

Finally, medical concerns appear to be a key factor driving marijuana use among older Americans. A recent study conducted by Benjamin Han and Joseph Palamar of New York University found that more than 20 percent of marijuana users over age 65 said a doctor recommended they try the drug. Other research has shown that marijuana is particularly effective at treating chronic pain, which is particularly prevalent among the elderlySeveral recent studies have found that Medicare prescriptions for opiate painkillers are lower in states with medical marijuana programs.

On net, grandparents smoking state-legal weed in their homes is much less of a legal or public-health concern than teens using black market stuff at parties. But as with any recreational drug there are risks associated with marijuana use, even if the user is over the age of 60. The Han/Palamar study, for instance, found evidence for higher rates of nicotine dependence, cocaine use and prescription drug misuse among older Americans who had used marijuana in the past year. And dependency is always a concern, particularly among people who use marijuana frequently.

That said, it’s becoming increasingly clear that stereotypes of marijuana users as risk-taking disaffected youth are outdated in the era of legal marijuana, with middle-aged and even older Americans becoming more likely to use the drug than their children and grandchildren.

SOURCE LINK: Washington Post

The Missouri Times: Missourians will have three options for legalizing medical marijuana on November ballot

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Show-Me State will get the chance in November to decide whether or not to join the plethora of other states in legalizing medical marijuana. And voters will not be shy of options, with three initiative petitions submitting enough signatures to be certified for the general election ballot.

Though illegal on a federal level, the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes has become of growing movement with 30 states in the U.S., including Oklahoma and Arkansas, passing laws giving patients with certain illness access to cannabis.

“Americans views on the subject are shifting and shifting fast,” said Travis Brown, with Missourians for Patient Care, a group that put forward one of the initiative petitions.

On June 25, 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration took a momentous step in approving a drug derived from marijuana to treat severe forms of epilepsy. That move signaled that even though cannabis in all forms is considered a Schedule I drug — a drug without medical uses — the plant has medical uses.

“Missourians really want to put the doctor and the patient back in charge of making decisions on medical treatment options, not bureaucrats and politicians,” said Jack Cardetti with New Approach Missouri, a group that put forward one of the initiative petitions.

And now voters in the Show-Me State are going to be presented with the question of if medical marijuana should be legal, and if so, just how they want to do so.

“In November, Missourians will choose whether or not to create a program to allow access to marijuana for a wide range of ailments,” said NCADA’s Executive Director, Nichole Dawsey, in a news release. “This will be the first time Missourians have voted on whether or not something constitutes a medicine. Due to the unprecedented nature of these efforts, it’s crucial that Missourians be informed of the details of each initiative.”

The three options Missourians will be presented with legalizing medical marijuana are vastly different. Two are Constitutional amendments, one is a statutory change. Tax rates range from 2 percent to 15 percent, cost of administration runs between $500,000 to $10 million, and revenue generation estimates vary from $10 million to $66 million.

If more than one measure is passed by voters, state law states that “the largest affirmative vote shall prevail, even if that amendment did not receive the greatest majority of affirmative votes.”

Here is a breakdown of the three measures:

Proposition C

Unique within the medical marijuana measures is the Missouri Patient Care Act, which is a statutory change instead of a constitutional amendment.

In drafting the measure, Travis Brown said that “there was a lot of deference given to state laws that have worked, or are viewed to have worked.”

The measure creates a framework where physicians with a “bona fide” relations with the patient may recommend marijuana or marijuana products to treat qualifying conditions. Some of the illnesses specified in language are cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, intractable migraines unresponsive to other treatment, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, and seizures. It contains a provision allowing “any other chronic, debilitating or other medical condition…” at the professional judgment of the physician.

Oversight of the program would fall to the Division of Alcohol and Tobacco. An individual would be able to possess 2.5 ounces as a 14 day supply and may possess up to a 60 day supply at a time.

Medical marijuana would be taxed at 2 percent, the lowest of the proposals.

This statute requires local municipalities to pass regulating ordinances and requirements for licensure. Local municipalities would be able to prohibit the cultivation and sale of marijuana with a 2/3 vote in the general election.

Licensed entities must be at least 60 percent owned by individuals who have been Missouri residents for a minimum of three years. No provision allows for individuals to cultivate marijuana in their residence and sale hours are limited.

According to estimates provided to the Secretary of State’s Office, state government entities estimate initial and one-time costs of $2.6 million, annual costs of $10 million, and annual revenues of at least $10 million. Local government entities estimate no annual costs and are expected to have at least $152,000 in annual revenues.

As a statutory amendment, it allows the Missouri General Assembly to revise the law and make improvements as necessary.

“For this particular industry, the kinds of investors, and the marketplace that is growing very rapidly we felt like a statutory approach is more appropriate than a constitutional approach because the probability that you might need to tweak something at some point is relatively high,” said Brown. He said that the chance of being perfect day one is pretty low.

But the advantage the measure has as a statutory change could also be considered a disadvantage: The legislature can make changes. If Missouri’s lawmakers choose to, they could strip away a majority of the law, as legislators in other states are in the process of.

Amendment 2

The constitutional amendment put forth by New Approach Missouri will be the first marijuana-related question to show up on the ballot.

“Of the three initiative petitions, we are the first on the ballot which was a strategic move,” said Jack Cardetti with New Approach Missouri. “New Approach Missouri and the backers of Amendment 2 are a coalition of veterans, health care providers, and patients with one very important goal: make Missouri the 31st state that allows state license physicians to recommend medical marijuana to patients with serious and debilitating disease.”

The measure creates a framework where physicians may recommend marijuana or marijuana products to treat nine qualifying conditions — such as PTSD, seizures, cancer, and epilepsy — and “any other chronic, debilitating or other medical condition…” at the professional judgment of the physician.

Oversight of the program would fall to the Department of Health and Senior Services. The department would be able to limit purchases to 4 ounces of marijuana per patient every 30 days, with exceptions if doctors recommend a higher dose.

“This is a medical marijuana program. [DHSS] has experience working with health care providers and that is exactly what they would be doing here,” said Cardetti.

Patients would be required to obtain a medical marijuana card, at a cost of $25 annually, to enable access to treatment. A 4 percent excise tax in addition to local and state sales tax would be added to all marijuana products. The excise tax would go directly to the Missouri Veterans Health and Care Fund and all other excise taxes would be prohibited.

This measure would require DHSS to approve 1 cultivation center per 100,000 residents, 1 manufacturing facility per 70,000 residents, and at least 24 dispensaries in every congressional district. Cultivation, manufacture, and dispensing facilities may not be established within 1,000 feet of a church, school, or daycare.

Those with medical marijuana cards would be able to cultivate up to 6 flowering plants for personal use.

According to estimates provided to the Secretary of State’s Office, this proposal could generate annual taxes and fees of $18 million for state operating costs and veterans programs, and $6 million for local governments. Annual state operating costs are estimated to be $7 million.

“Missourians want certainty on this issue, patients want certainty on this issue,” said Cardetti. “Ours is the only initiative that would put funding towards helping veterans in Missouri, and we think that is desperately needed.”

Amendment 3

Also called the Bradshaw Amendment, the proposal spearheaded by Springfield attorney and physician Brad Bradshaw would legalize medical marijuana and imposed the largest tax of any of the proposed measures.

This constitutional amendment would create the Biomedical Research and Drug Development Institute, which would oversee medical marijuana research in Missouri. The research board would be composed of nine members — all physicians, pharmacists, or holding a doctorate in a related field — receiving an annual salary equal to that of the Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice.

It would be up to the board to determine which ailments would enable a person to have access to medical marijuana.

The research board may limit marijuana purchases, but not less than 3 ounces every 30 days. The board must issue at least 50 manufacturing licenses and allow 1 dispensary for every 20,000 residents in a county.

Patients would pay $100 annually for identification cards. A 15 percent excise tax would be charged at the retail level. A separate excise tax of $9.25/ounce on flowers and buds, and $2.75/ounce on leaves would be charged.

Only 25 percent of a physician’s income would be allowed to come from treating qualifying patients. Physicians would not be able to issue certifications in excess of 25% of prescriptions written in the previous year.

According to estimates provided to the Secretary of State’s Office, this proposal could generate annual taxes and fees of $66 million. State governmental entities estimate initial implementation costs of $186,000 and increased annual operating costs of $500,000.

SOURCE: The Missouri Times