MO: Voters May Have Final Say On Medical Marijuana

Photo Credit: Scott Craig

A Missouri bill that would have legalized forms of medical marijuana went up in smoke earlier this month.

However, the issue might see new life at the polls.

A medical marijuana bill did not make it out of Missouri’s legislative session, which ended on Friday, May 18. The bill would have made smokeless marijuana legal to terminally ill patients and patients with specific diseases or conditions, such as post-traumatic stress syndrome.

It was drafted by Republican Rep. Dr. Jim Neely from Cameron. He said the vote was close to making it out of the Legislature.

“My amendment went to a Senate committee and all he needed to say was yes and it would have been on the governor’s desk,” Neely said. “There was one senator who caused it not to advance to the governor’s desk.”

Neely said other lawmakers believed the bill was too broad.

“The senators weren’t wanting my bill to advance the way I crafted it and that bothered me,” Neely said.

Neely has been a practicing doctor for three decades. He said the bill would have updated Missouri with federal standards on the issue.

“Anything that they’re doing at the FDA trials on medical marijuana, we ought to be able to try for those who are terminal,” Neely said.

Although the bill didn’t pass through the Missouri Legislature, voters may have the chance to vote on something similar this November.

Lance Davis is a lawyer in the St. Joseph area and he also collects signatures around Buchanan County in order to gain enough names to be able to put the initiative on the ballot in November.

He said there are approximately 160,000 signatures needed. Davis said he has collected about 370,000.

Buchanan County Clerk Mary Baack-Garvey said her office is still waiting to see two proposed petitions involving medical marijuana measures.

“We’re still waiting for those to get to us from the state for us to process,” she said. “We have to process every single line on every single page.”

Baack-Garvey said she wouldn’t be surprised if a medical marijuana initiative did get left up to voters in November.

“Normally initiative petitions get enough signatures, so I don’t see that being a problem,” she said.

The county clerk believes if the initiative did end up on the ballot, it could bring out more voters.

“We’ve got two groups here that are going to do basically the same kind of petition for the same principle of basically medicinal marijuana,” she said. “So, I could see it on the ballot and I could see it definitely raising interest in a lot of people, for and against it.”