Last November, Missouri voters overwhelmingly approved Amendment 2 to establish constitutional protections for medical marijuana patients and create a system for them to safely access medical marijuana. For the past several months, state officials have been making progress in implementing the new law. Here are a few updates:
- The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has issued draft rules governing physicians and the system they must use to issue medical marijuana recommendations to qualifying patients.
- The law requires the department to finish the rule-writing process by June 4.
- Regulators are also accepting suggestions from the public about rules for the medical marijuana program. Click here to share your opinions with them!
- Patients will be able to apply for a medical marijuana registration card by July 4.
- DHHS has established 10 advisory committees composed of subject matter experts to help review draft questions for the facility license applications. More information about these committees and how feedback can be provided can be found here.
- The state commissioned and published a study by three economists predicting there will be 26,000 registered medical marijuana patients in Missouri by 2022.
Thank you for continuing to support sensible marijuana policy reforms, and stay tuned for more updates from us!
Have you voted yet? If not, look up your polling location and make a plan to get there before 7 p.m. when the polls close!
Voting is one of the most important tools we have to change marijuana laws. Sitting out an election is a great way to ensure that failed prohibitionist policies remain in place.
Today Missourians have an opportunity to vote on not one, but three different medical marijuana initiatives. MPP encourages voters to say “YES” on Amendment 2, because it will enshrine a sensible and compassionate medical marijuana program in the state constitution, making it harder for state politicians to undermine it later.
Today, be one of the millions of Americans voicing their support for humane and rational marijuana policies through the ballot box. Grab a few friends and get out there and VOTE!
Learn more about the campaign and make a donation here.
Last month, a team of grassroots activists beat the odds and succeeded in qualifying a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana for adults in North Dakota. With just a few weeks left until Election Day, they need our help. Today, MPP is endorsing their effort and urging allies to support Measure 3. Click here to read the full text of the measure.
There’s a real chance North Dakotans could approve Measure 3, which would end prohibition and create a process to seal criminal records for nonviolent marijuana convictions, but polling suggests the vote is going to be very close. Every dollar the campaign receives goes towards voter outreach and education. North Dakota has a small population, so your contribution could make all the difference.
A victory for Measure 3 would be huge. It would show that adult-use legalization can win anywhere, even in more rural and conservative states. It would also send a strong message to Congress that federal laws on marijuana are deeply unpopular throughout the country.
2018 is shaping up to be a big year for our movement. There are four marijuana-related state ballot questions in play, and each of them needs your help. Click the logos below to check out the campaigns. Please follow them on social media, spread the word to voters in those states, and donate what you can.
Last Tuesday, the Missouri House of Representatives voted 112-44 to approve a very limited medical marijuana measure. Then, on Friday and Sunday, campaigns handed in signatures for three different medical marijuana ballot measures.
New Approach Missouri and Find the Cure submitted signatures proposing constitutional ballot measures, while Missourians for Patient Care turned in petitions for a statutory measure. Next, the secretary of state will review the signatures to see if enough are valid for the measures to make Missouri’s November ballot.
Turning back to the legislature, HB 1554 would improve Missouri’s existing low-THC cannabis oil law, but it is extremely limited and flawed. If you are a Missouri resident and would like to weigh in on the measure, please urge your senator to push for the bill to be strengthened.
HB 1554 leaves behind pain patients, steering them to more dangerous opioids. It also doesn’t allow “combustible” marijuana or for patients to be assisted by caregivers. Furthermore, patients can’t qualify unless a physician certifies they would benefit from medical cannabis “at the same dosage and with the same method of smokeless administration used in a clinical trial.” Yet, the feds have stacked the deck against clinical trials, and there are very few with non-smoked cannabis. This catch-22 could deny patients the kind of cannabis they’d benefit from.
Please stay tuned for updates, and share this news with your networks in Missouri.
Missouri Alderwoman Megan Green is introducing an ordinance in St. Louis to prevent the use of city resources to enforce laws prohibiting the use of marijuana. Specifically, the ordinance would:
- Prohibit city police and other officials from using city resources to enforce marijuana prohibition against adults; and
- Continue to enforce marijuana prohibition laws against minors and those who provide marijuana to minors.
Alderwoman Green said, “We’ve come to a point as a country, and as a city, where marijuana usage is not taboo in the way that it used to be.”
And people across Missouri are beginning to agree.
Earlier this year, voters in Kansas City approved a measure to reduce the penalties for simple possession of marijuana, amending local laws regarding possession of up to 35 grams of marijuana for adults age 21 and older from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil offense punishable by a $25 fine.
Also in Missouri, there is a citizen initiative to place a measure on the 2018 ballot that would implement a medical marijuana program. New Approach Missouri is leading the campaign. Please visit their website to get involved.
MPP worked closely with Alderwoman Green and others allies in St. Louis to provide guidance on the details of the proposed ordinance and we thank her for being a leader on this issue.
With all of this local government involvement and citizen-initiated activity, let’s not forget that Missouri’s legislature is at a standstill. If you are a Missouri resident, please tell your state representatives to move forward with improving the state’s marijuana policies.
Back in 2014, Missouri lawmakers enacted SB 491 — a bill to reduce penalties for possessing up to 10 grams of marijuana. That law finally took effect on January 1, 2017. Congratulations to Missouri for joining the 20 other states that have ended cannabis prohibition or replaced jail time with a fine! The new law institutes a fine of $250-$1,000, replacing the prior penalty of up to a year of incarceration and a fine.
While this is far better than current law, the hefty fine is still very harsh for possessing a substance that is safer than alcohol. Worse yet, possession of over 35 grams remains a felony, subjecting marijuana consumers to a prison sentence of up to seven years and a $5,000 fine.
While lawmakers should be applauded for enacting marijuana reduction penalties, we hope you will let them know that the time to end prohibition is now. If you are a Missouri resident, please send an email to your state representative and senator and tell them you want to tax and regulate a substance that is safer than alcohol.
MPP is excited that New Approach Missouri is spearheading an effort to give voters a chance to enact a comprehensive medical marijuana program this November. The ballot initiative would allow seriously ill patients who have a certification from their doctor to obtain medical cannabis from dispensaries regulated by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. For our complete summary of the initiative, please click here.
Should voters amend Missouri’s constitution to establish this program, medical cannabis would be subject to a 4% retail sales tax. Revenue from this tax would go to establishing the Missouri Veterans Health Care Fund benefiting veterans with health care assistance, drug rehabilitation services, housing assistance, job training, and tuition assistance.
But voters will not have the opportunity to cast a ballot for this compassionate program unless New Approach is able to collect enough signatures. They need to collect 256,000 signatures by May 8, 2016. Currently they are about 40% of the way to their goal. If you are a Missouri resident and want to get involved, please make sure you have signed the petition, and then review this training video and contact your respective volunteer coordinator to help out.
On Tuesday, Gov. Jay Nixon made Missouri history by allowing the state to join the ranks of 18 others that have eliminated the possibility of jail time for the possession of marijuana. The new law made several significant reforms to the state’s criminal laws, including protecting people caught with up to 10 grams from incarceration for choosing a substance that is safer than alcohol.
The governor decided not to sign SB 491, instead allowing it to become effective without his signature. In addition to “decriminalizing” simple possession of marijuana, this new law also reduces possible sentences related to the sale and cultivation of marijuana, including the current ban on probation or parole for those with 3rd felony offenses.
Unfortunately, the law is somewhat limited. It will not take effect until January 1, 2017, and the protections against jail time only apply to people without prior marijuana convictions. Also, a possession charge — even without the possibility of jail time — is still a crime and can mark a person for life, affecting housing, employment, and future employment opportunities.
Nonetheless, this represents several major improvements, and now statewide law is beginning to reflect those of both St. Louis and Columbia, which previously decriminalized possession of up to 35 grams of cannabis.
MPP wishes to thank Missouri attorney and activist Dan Viets and Show-Me Cannabis for their strong contributions to the new law!
On Wednesday, Rep. Chris Kelly introduced HB 1659, which would end the prohibition of marijuana in Missouri. The bill, similar to the law currently in effect in Colorado, would allow adults to possess, use, and cultivate limited amounts of marijuana with no penalty. It would also set up a taxed and regulated market for marijuana cultivation and sale.
Marijuana prohibition has been just as ineffective, inefficient, and problematic as alcohol prohibition. Poll after poll after poll has shown that Americans are ready for a new, more sensible approach. By regulating adult use, the state can replace the underground market, and let law enforcement focus on serious crime. It’s time for a better approach in the Show Me State. If you are a Missouri resident, please support Rep. Kelly’s efforts and ask your senator and representative to end the destruction caused by marijuana prohibition in Missouri.
Meanwhile, another bill has also been introduced and represents a step in the right direction. Sen. Jolie Justus introduced SB 491, which would establish a new class of low-level offense for the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Individuals would not be forced to spend time in jail, and fines would be limited from their current levels.
In the latest development in the quest for justice in Columbia, Missouri, Jonathan Whitworth and family are suing the officers responsible for a botched February SWAT raid that endangered their lives and resulted in the death of one of their dogs.
This story received national attention when a video was released showing the police entering the home in what they call a “dynamic entry” and immediately opening fire, killing one dog and injuring another. After enormous pressure from the media and activist community, the Columbia Police Chief agreed to revise the city’s SWAT guidelines to prevent further incidents.
Unfortunately, the officers involved were never disciplined for their dangerous behavior, and both the chief and police review board found that they had acted appropriately. While this family will have to suffer the lasting pain of losing a pet and the trauma of a violent intrusion in their lives, the paramilitary thugs that terrorized them, over a gram of marijuana and a pipe, suffered no consequences whatsoever.
Let’s hope the judge hearing this case feels differently.
Just in case you haven’t seen the video, this is what the officers are being sued for: