Despite a number of setbacks over the past few years, a group of Missouri marijuana advocates pushing to legalize a comprehensive medical program in the believes 2018 will be their year.
It has not been easy for the organization known as New Approach Missouri to get the issue of marijuana reform in front of the state’s voters. For starters, the group, which formerly campaigned under the moniker Show-Me Cannabis, spent much of its early days pushing to eliminate marijuana prohibition in its entirety.
Previous Push For Medical Marijuana
But soon after a public opinion poll emerged in 2015 showing that the state’s voters were more likely to cast a favorable ballot if presented with the issue of medicinal use, the group promptly changed its name and began calling for cannabis to be made a legal medicine.
Although the group ran a fairly successful fundraising campaign during its last push, collecting donations of around $1.3 million, New Approach failed to get its medical marijuana initiative on the ballot in 2016. That’s because Missouri officials fought tooth and nail to prevent the campaign from having a fair shot at seeing the light of day.
In fact, had it not been for a Missouri judge disqualifying thousands of signatures, the group would have undoubtedly succeeded in getting the proposal on the ballot last year.
Why 2018 Is The Year For Missouri Marijuana Advocates
It is for this reason that New Approach Missouri has taken steps to ensure it has plenty of time to collect the signatures necessary to qualify for the ballot in next year’s election. Already, the group has secured around 100,000 of the required 170,000 signatures. The organization has another seven months to submit the remaining petitions.
“Our goal is to make Missouri the 30th state that allows state-licensed physicians to recommend medical marijuana to patients with debilitating illnesses,” New Approach spokesman Jack Cardetti told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Earlier this month, Adolphus Busch IV, the heir to the Anheuser-Busch beer fortune, got behind the New Approach campaign, firing off letters to high rollers all across the state in an attempt to rally some financial support for the group’s latest medical marijuana proposal. The letter, which calls attention to evidence showing fewer drug overdose deaths in states with marijuana laws on the books, suggested that a statewide medical marijuana program might be exactly what Missouri needs to curb its problem.
Reports show that opioid-related deaths in Missouri have increased by 20 percent since 2016.
Last week, President Donald Trump official declared the opioid crisis a “national emergency,” but never once did he mention the possibility of looking into medical marijuana as part of the solution. The marijuana community found this interesting, considering that a recent study in the American Journal of Public Health showed a six percent drop in opioid-related deaths since Colorado launched its recreational market in 2014.
Potential Choice For Missouri Marijuana Advocates At The Ballot
There is a distinct possibility that Missouri voters could be forced to choose between two medical marijuana initiatives in the 2018 election.
Missouri attorney and physician Dr. Brad Bradshaw is also collecting signatures to get the question of medical marijuana on the ballot in the Show-Me State. Bradshaw’s initiative, which is entirely self-funded, already has 142,000 signatures.
All of the folks involved in the push to legalize medical marijuana next year in Missouri are looking toward the latest polls as evidence that the majority of the state’s population is prepared to jump on this issue.
Over the summer, a Quinnipiac University poll indicated that 94 percent of the voters would support “allowing adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes if their doctor prescribes it.”
The latest Gallup poll, which was released last week, shows that 64 percent of the American people now believe that marijuana should be taxed and regulated in a manner similar to beer.