Ballot issues not ideal way to deal with medical marijuana

Friday, October 26, 2018

In one of the most bizarre ballots in memory, the Nov. 6 ballot contains three, yes three, options to approve marijuana for medical purposes.

In a nutshell:

* Amendment 2 would allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to patients with specified medical conditions such as cancer, glaucoma, epilepsy and chronic pain and allow limited cultivation of marijuana by individuals and impose a 4 percent sales tax.

* Amendment 3, backed by Springfield, Missouri, personal-injury attorney and physician Brad Bradshaw, would legalize medical marijuana and impose a 15 percent tax on the retail sale of the drug; and levy a tax on the wholesale of marijuana flowers and leaves. It would also create a state research institute to develop cures and treatments for cancer and other diseases.

* Proposition C, or the Patient Care act, would legalize medical marijuana and impose a 2 percent sales tax, and would fund programs for veterans, drug treatment, early childhood education and public safety.

It's not yet clear what would transpire if all three issues were to pass; much of that would be left up to the courts to hash out.

A good debate is being had across the country on whether marijuana should be legalized for health and recreation purposes. Some would argue that marijuana is less destructive than alcohol or prescribed opioids. Several states have already adopted the legalization of marijuana, and we're still learning and assessing the consequences.

We suggest a no vote on all three measures, because these ballot measures are not the best way to roll out a law on this complicated matter. Codifying marijuana policy in the Constitutiopn is simply imprudent. Meanwhile, the Missouri Police Chiefs Association opposes it because of the enforcement issues it would create. As stated by Cape Girardeau police chief Wes Blair, the measures would put officers in a situation of enforcing conflicting state and federal law.

The Missouri State Medical Association, which represents more than 4,000 physicians, opposes legalizing medical marijuana.

"Until the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) reclassifies marijuana to allow extensive scientific research, MSMA remains concerned Missourians will be gambling with their health using an unregulated drug," MSMA said.

Jeff Howell, MSMA general counsel and director of governmental relations, said, "I don't think you can find a physician who would recommend something that is smoked."

In June, the FDA approved cannabidiol, an oral solution for the treatment of seizures associated with epilepsy. CBD is a chemical component of the Cannabis plant, but it does not cause a high.

The Missouri Legislature should study this issue and come up with laws that make the most sense, with federal policies, enforcement and health concerns in mind. This is not an issue that should be legislated via ballot.

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