Medical cannabis legalization headed to Missouri’s voters

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An effort in Missouri to pass narrow medical marijuana legislation to preempt ballot initiatives died this week, shortly before the end of the session.

The lack of agreement by lawmakers paves the way for voters to decide in November among what could be multiple ballot initiatives, the Kansas City Star reported.

An MMJ bill introduced by Rep. Jim Neely, a Republican, passed the state House last month, but a Senate hearing on the bill was canceled.

Neely then tried to add an MMJ amendment to a Senate health-care bill, but that died this week in committee, according to the newspaper. The amendment would have allowed terminally ill patients to access nonsmokable medical marijuana.

Several other state legislatures have either pre-empted ballot measures or tried to, including California, Florida, Ohio and Oklahoma. Legislation in Oklahoma recently died, clearing the way for a June 26 vote on an MMJ ballot initiative.

Four MMJ ballot initiatives in Missouri beat the deadline this month for submitting their signatures, according to the Missouri secretary of state’s website.

But signatures still need to be verified, and the secretary of state has until Aug. 14 to make the final determination on whether the initiatives will make the November ballot.

A leading candidate is the Missouri Medical Marijuana and Veteran Healthcare Services Initiative, led by New Approach Missouri. The campaign submitted more than double the signatures needed to qualify for the state ballot.

Various polls have shown that at least 60% of Missouri residents support medical marijuana, but some worry voters will be confused if multiple initiatives wind up on the ballot in November.