Missouri voters will have three medical marijuana issues on the ballot in next month’s election.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 31 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico now allow for comprehensive public medical marijuana and cannabis programs.

Two of the measures before Missouri voters would change the state constitution to legalize medical marijuana while the third would change the law to achieve the same goal.

One of those two constitutional proposals, Amendment 2, would tax sales of medical marijuana at 4%, raising $18 million a year which would go toward care for military veterans and to pay for the licensing and regulation of the businesses.  It’s estimated operating cost to the state is $7 million annually.

Funds from the tax would be used by the Missouri Veterans Commission to provide services for military veterans, and by the Department of Health and Senior Services to license and regulate medical marijuana and its distribution.

Jack Cardetti is the spokesperson for Amendment 2, which is known as New Approach Missouri.  He says the public can be reassured that the measure is tied to state oversight and benefits for veterans.  “Not only is it regulated by an existing state agency, the Missouri Department of Health, which is already set up and accountable and has expertise in these manners, but the revenue will also go toward veterans and veteran’s health care programs in Missouri,” said Cardetti.

Amendment 3, which is also referred to as “Find the Cures”, would carry a 15% tax on sales, generating $66 million with proceeds going toward research for cancer and other incurable diseases. The proposal would add an additional wholesale sales tax on marijuana sold by medical marijuana cultivation facilities.  It would cost the state $500,000 a year in operating expenses.

This amendment makes Springfield personal-injury attorney Brad Bradshaw the research chairperson of a newly created research institute that would be funded by fees and taxes on medical marijuana.  Bradshaw would select members of a board that would govern the institute, which would oversee all the regulations and licensing procedures for medical marijuana, its cultivation, manufacture, and distribution.  The institute would determine how the 15% sales tax on the product would be used.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Tuesday that Bradshaw has had issues with unpaid taxes.  According to the newspaper,  Bradshaw was hit with two liens – one related to unpaid state income taxes totaling $88,166 in 2017, and one showing his company had $31,375 in unpaid taxes in 2018.

The third medical marijuana measure, Proposition C, would change the law to allow its use with certification from a physician and allow for legal growth, possession, and production of pot.  It would tax retail sales at 2%, raising an estimated $10 million in revenue.  The money would be used for veterans’ services, drug treatment, early childhood education, and for public safety in cities with a medical marijuana facility.  The operational cost would be $10 million per year.

Proposition C is backed by the committee Missourians for Patient Care.  It’s donations primarily come from a nonprofit organization of the same name which isn’t required to identify its donors.  The state Division of Liquor Control would be charged with licensing and regulating marijuana and its distribution under the proposal.

Legal wrangling

Contentious legal battles among the medical marijuana ballot measures have gone away.  Brad Bradshaw, the backer of Amendment 3 had sued the other organizations representing Amendment 2 and Proposition C.

Bradshaw contended both of the other initiatives lacked the necessary valid signatures to be on the ballot even though both were certified to go before voters by the secretary of state’s office.  He dropped his opposition to Proposition C, which cleared the necessary signatures in one district by 38, after previously claiming that 39 or more of those signatures were invalid.

After the state Western District Court of Appeals in Kansas City declined to reconsider its decision affirming Amendment 2’s spot on the ballot, Bradshaw was rejected in his effort to have that case heard by the Supreme Court.  A circuit court had originally dismissed his lawsuit before he exhausted all other legal avenues to try and get Amendment 2 taken off the ballot.

Bradshaw had claimed thousands of people had signed the petition while not in the presence of the circulator, rendering their signatures invalid.  His suit claimed Amendment 2 petitions had been placed at retail establishments for individuals to sign without doing so in the presence of the petition circulator.

What happens if more than one medical marijuana proposal passes

With three ballot measures all attempting to accomplish the same thing, legalization of medical marijuana, there is a process of elimination if two or more of the ballot measures are passed by voters and they’re deemed to be in irreconcilable conflict with each other.

A constitutional amendment would take precedence over a change to the law, a statute.  So, Amendment 2 or 3 would win out over Proposition C if both types of ballot measures passed.

According to the secretary of state’s office, if both amendments were approved and they have an irreconcilable conflict, the constitutional amendment with the most votes is adopted.  Cardetti with New Approach Missouri attempted to clarify even further, stating that the amendment with the most “yes” votes would win out.  He said the distinction is necessary because voters can cast a ballot for “yes” or “no” on any and all ballot measures.

Secretary of State’s office spokesperson Maura Browning said figuring out whether two or more measures have irreconcilable conflicts is a legal issue that would likely be settled in the courts.