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Three Competing Medical Cannabis Initiatives Debated in Missouri

Only one representative from the three competing Missouri ballot initiative campaigns for medical cannabis showed up at a University of Missouri forum Wednesday night, and he used the opportunity to hammer one of the competing campaigns, calling it a play for power and money.

Jack Cardetti, spokesperson for the group New Approach Missouri, which is backing Amendment 2, told a group hosted by the Mizzou College Republicans that the low 4% retail tax rate and regulatory system of Amendment 2, modeled on other states, was the best option. He mostly left aside Proposition C, other than to say that state lawmakers could too easily tinker with the state statute and that his group’s proposal is stronger because it is a change to the state constitution. Instead, Cardetti focused on the third initiative, being pushed by attorney and physician Brad Bradshaw.

Amendment 3, or the “Bradshaw Amendment,” would impose a steep retail tax rate of 15% which could push would-be patients into the black market for cheaper medical cannabis, Cardetti said. Further, he said, the amendment puts Bradshaw at the head of a regulatory body whose members he would appoint, making him the state’s “medical marijuana czar,” and in a potential position to repay himself for his amendment’s campaign through contributions from companies that would benefit.

“Amendment 2 was set up pro-patient,” Cardetti said. “Amendment 3 was set up for Brad Bradshaw to help himself.”

Bradshaw, the head of the Find the Cures campaign behind Amendment 3, was taking care of his ill father at the hospital Wednesday night, the group’s treasurer, Marcus Leach, said in an email.

He said Bradshaw would not be personally benefiting from the passage of his amendment. “In response to that lie, Amendment 3 clearly, in writing, prohibits any person involved with Amendment 3 … from receiving any benefit or compensation. In fact, it doesn’t just prohibit them, it makes it illegal,” he wrote.

Cardetti’s New Approach group is made up of the same advocates who came up just short on the number of signatures required for the medical initiative to make the ballot in 2016.

Mark Habbas with Missourians for Patient Care, which is supporting Proposition C, couldn’t attend because of a scheduling conflict, Maxx Cook, the Mizzou College Republicans’ organizer told Cannabis Wire.

The event at the university’s Keller Auditorium in the Geological Sciences Building — which featured free Gumby’s pizza and Hot Box cookies from event sponsor American Enterprise Institute – Mizzou — did feature one area of agreement: that Missouri was ready to legalize medical cannabis.

Republican state Sen. Caleb Rowden, who helped moderate the event, said most expect one or more of the initiatives to pass. “For Missourians, it’s going to be a welcome step,” he said. If more than one initiative passes, the one with the most votes is expected to be adopted, Cardetti said. That situation could also set up a court battle, which could delay the start of a medical cannabis program.

The three initiatives have created some confusion. Cook, whose group the Mizzou College Republicans livestreamed the event on their Facebook page, told Cannabis Wire that many folks he’s spoken to don’t realize that all of the ballot initiatives legalize medical cannabis but set up different regulatory systems and tax structures. So the college Republicans wanted to host the event to get into the details and also “show that this wasn’t an issue that belongs to just one party,” he said.

Separately, a heated discussion took place around guns and the required patient registry. One audience member said patients shouldn’t have to register with the state because it would provide an easy trail for federal law enforcement, which could crack down on cannabis if they chose to. Another audience member asked Cardetti about having a medical marijuana card and guns. And while Cardetti said that would be legal under state law, federal law enforcement has said it is illegal to consume cannabis and own a firearm, even in states that have passed cannabis laws.

One audience member said, “You can be on Xanax and all kinds of other opiates. What about cannabis?”

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