Missouri voters could decide on medical marijuana next year. One group in support of medical marijuana, New Approach Missouri, filed petitions with the Missouri secretary of state's office Thursday for a measure to legalize cannabis for medical purposes.
If the group is given the go-ahead, it can begin to collect signatures. To make the ballot, around 160,000 signatures will need to be gathered. So far, the organization has amassed more than $70,000 in contributions towards the referendum cause, reported St. Louis Today.
Under the proposed measure, medical marijuana would be regulated by the State Department of Health and Senior Services, which would determine the amount a patient could purchase in a 30-day period. Patients could qualify for a medical need if they have cancer, glaucoma, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder and any terminal illnesses. Physicians could also prescribe medical marijuana to patients suffering from chronic, debilitating conditions. The state currently only allows limited use of medical marijuana for those with epilepsy, according to St. Louis news station KMOX. Medical marijuana providers would need to be granted licensing from the state, and the tax paid on retail sales would go toward the state's veteran healthcare services.
"This measure is an absolutely win-win for Missouri Veterans," said Tom Mundell, who helped launch the initiative and serves as president of the Missouri Association of Veterans Organizations. "Not only will it provide veterans suffering illnesses much needed relief, but it will provide invaluable resources for our underfunded veterans healthcare programs throughout Missouri."
Marijuana-use would not be allowed in public or while driving -- both of which are barred in Missouri, reported the Associated Press.
If the statewide vote passes next year, Missouri would become the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana. California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996, and others states, such as Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, have gone on to legalize cannabis entirely.