Area residents are joining forces with a grassroots organization to help get a spot on 2018 state election ballots for medical marijuana.
New Approach Missouri, based out of St. Louis, is accepting signatures to allow Missouri to join the growing list of states that allow for legal use of marijuana.
The petition calls for the use of marijuana for medical purposes, and creates regulations and licensing/certification procedures for marijuana and marijuana facilities. Also listed is a four percent tax on the retail sale of marijuana and the use of funds from these taxes for health and care services for military veterans by the Missouri Veterans Commission for all money in excess of the cost of regulation the program.
The proposal would generate annual taxes and fees of $18 million for state operating costs and the veterans program and $6 million for local governments. The annual state operating cost is estimated to be $7 million, according to the petition.
Currently, local volunteers, Brenda and Miranda, who asked their last names not be used, are gathering signatures in Atchison County.
This upcoming week, a petition signature drive will be held at Atchison County Library starting at 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on April 24.
To be able to sign residents must be registered voters, though no identification is needed. All signatures require a date, address, congressional district and a printed name.
According to ProCon.org, there are currently 28 states that allow for medicinal marijuana, 11 of which have passed a law since 2012. During the most recent elections, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Dakota, Florida and Arkansas voters passed a measure to allow it.
In Colorado, a state that allows medicinal and recreational use, numbers show an impact of $2.39 billion in 2015 in economic impact and $996 million in combined sales. Medicinal marijuana sales hit $408.4 million in 2015, a jump from $386 the year prior.
The Associated Press wrote that in Illinois, the state based its marijuana taxes off Colorado’s system. A proposal calls for 50 percent of wholesale revenue for the state’s general fund and the remaining 50 percent split between education and public health.
Jamie Kacz, a board member for New Approach Missouri, said there needs to be 165,000 signatures for this petition to be placed on the ballot.
“It is a real robust initiative and is not as restrictive as other medical campaigns across the country,” said Kacz, who started the Kansas City NORML chapter. “It is about time. Recent polling had shown Missourians are ready for medical marijuana reform. Our neighbors are doing it and friends to the west side and east side of the country. The dominoes are falling and Missouri is the next big state to go.”
Kacz noted there were signatures collected at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, while other opportunities exist at concerts and big events. According to the organization’s website, there are 14 locations to sign in Kansas City, while St. Joseph has two businesses that have a petition on the premises.
There are permanent locations for signatures in the state’s other large cities St. Louis, Columbia, and Springfield.
The access to medical marijuana in states with a proximity to Missouri is causing some families to move according to Brenda.
“No. 1, we have Missouri families moving away because of a child’s or family need,” Brenda said. “More families are going and others are thinking of going. Personally, I’d like to see them come back.”
Brenda said she has a vested interest in the passage as she has fibromyalgia, which some of the symptoms can be lessened with use of medical marijuana.
Under the petition, there are 10 qualifying medical condition, though it is up to physicians to determine who will benefit from medical marijuana. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services will oversee licensing and implementation according to New Approach Missouri.
The use of medical marijuana, however, will not be allowed in public.
Some of the conditions listed included cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, intractable migraines, Parkinson’s, Tourette’s, post-traumatic stress disorder, acquired immunodeficiency, terminal illness and other chronic or debilitating issues at the judgement of a physician.
For more information or to help the local group of New Approach Missouri contact Brenda at 712-621-4341 or Miranda at 816-351-9546.