Marijuana has been in the decriminalization process since 1973 with many states over the years passing laws to either authorize the use of marijuana or prohibit it. It is time to stop treating marijuana like a deadly drug, when science and public opinion agree that it is relatively safe for adult recreational and medical use. With recreational and medical marijuana on the verge of nationwide legalization, marijuana growers and dispensaries are popping up everywhere.

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On November 6, Missouri voters won’t just have a choice between prohibition and legal medical cannabis — they’ll get to choose among three different legalization measures, each of which takes its own approach toward a regulated and taxed cannabis industry. All three bills received certification from the Secretary of State’s office last week. Now, they’ll have to survive one more week of a 10-day interval in which those opposed can legally challenge the bills. If they do survive, they’ll end up on the ballot and Missouri voters will have their pick.

Is Medical Cannabis Legalization a Sure Thing in Missouri?

With three different proposals slated for the November ballot, medical cannabis legalization seems all but guaranteed in Missouri. But voters will still have to decide what shape legalization will take.

Last Thursday, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft certified two Constitutional amendments and one statute to go to vote. Certification involves making sure that each proposal received the sufficient number of petition signatures to make it on the ballot.

Medical cannabis legalization has broad popular support in Missouri. So there’s a good chance voters could approve all three ballot measures. The one that will win, however, will be the amendment that receives the most votes, even if the statute passes. The Missouri Constitution supersedes any statutes, which would only pass if none of the amendments did.

So what are Missouri voters choosing on November 6? While all three measures legalize cannabis for medical use, their major differences are patient access, taxation and the use of tax revenue.

Missouri’s Three Medical Cannabis Bills

First, there are two constitutional amendments: Amendment 2 and Amendment 3. Amendment 2 has the backing of a pro-patient group called New Approach Missouri. Focusing on patient care, New Approach’s amendment taxes dispensary sales at 4 percent and would use the estimated $18 million in tax revenue to fund veterans programs and programs for seniors. Amendment 2 is the only measure that would legalize home cultivation and put in place a “seed-to-sale” tracking system.

Amendment 3, also known as the Bradshaw Amendment, takes its name from attorney and physician Brad Bradshaw. Bradshaw has funded almost the entirety of the bill himself, according to the Houston Herald, and its passage would give Bradshaw significant control over the cannabis industry in Missouri. Amendment 3 would create a nine-person board led by Bradshaw that would set licensing fees, purchasing limits and cap cultivation centers. Bradshaw’s amendment would also bring the highest tax rate. Growers would pay $9.25 per ounce of flower sold to dispensaries, while patients would pay 15 percent on top of each purchase.

Finally, Proposition C, not an amendment but a statute, would tax cannabis sales at the lowest rate: two percent. Prop C is supported by Missourians for Patient Care and received the fewest signatures of the three. But that’s likely because statutory initiatives don’t require as many signatures as amendments.

After The Vote, Medical Cannabis Still A Ways Away

If the three measures make it onto the ballot and one or more of them passes, it will still be several months before medical cannabis is available to patients in Missouri. The industry will need licensing and physicians and patients will need certification. In the meantime, Missouri does have a legal industrial hemp industry. And hemp-derived CBD products are legal and available for a broad range of conditions.

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