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Congressman: If Missouri legalizes medical marijuana, 'the tide changes nationally'

Posted at 4:18 PM, Oct 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-18 20:54:54-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Is it time for medical marijuana in Missouri? As residents prepare to vote on the issue in less than a month, supporters are making a big push to get the measure passed — but others are still skeptical.

Supporters of medical marijuana are holding a rally and concertthis weekend in Kansas City. U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, who travels across the country advocating for medical marijuana, will be the guest speaker at the rally. 

"This is an unusual movement because it has been driven by the public, not by politicians necessarily," Blumenauer said in an interview Thursday with 41 Action News. "It has been voters who have decided that they want to end this failed prohibition, and it's starting to come to a crest."

Blumenauer​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ said he believes it's only a matter of time before all states make the switch and that Missouri could become the 31st state to legalize medical marijuana. 

"If Missouri is willing to resoundingly support medical marijuana, I think the tide changes nationally, and I think we're in the home stretch," he said.

There are three medical marijuana measures on the ballot in Missouri, which makes it a little confusing, even for some experts. 

"It is confusing. I mean I'm sort of scratching my head trying to figure out how all this works, and I don't even live here," Blumenauer​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ said.

Missouri voters will see three medical marijuana proposals on the Nov. 6 ballot: Amendment 2, Amendment 3 and Proposition C.  

Amendment 2 would:
- legalize marijuana for medical purposes;
- tax marijuana sales at 4 percent; and
- spend tax revenue on healthcare services for veterans.
Amendment 3 would:
- legalize medical marijuana; 
- tax marijuana sales at 15 percent; and
- spend the tax revenue on biomedical research and drug development institutes.

According to Ballotpedia, if both amendments pass, then the amendment with the most votes would become law. 

Additionally, Missourians will also vote on Proposition C, which would
- legalize medical marijuana;
- tax marijuana sales at 2 percent; and
- spend tax revenue on veterans' services, drug treatment, education and law enforcement.

If both Proposition C and one or both of the amendments pass, a court would likely have to determine which measure prevails. 

Blumenauer​​​​​​​​​​​​​​, for his part, thinks one of the measures on the Missouri ballot stands out.

"This (Amendment) 2 looks to me to be broadly supported, well-crafted. I've looked at a number of these measures around the country and I think this is the strongest," he said.

Critics of medical marijuana, on the other hand, don't like any of the three options, and they point to problems in other states where medical marijuana is legal. 

Eric Zahnd, a Platte County prosecutor, said he doesn't think Missouri is ready for any form of legalized marijuana.

"In Colorado, which was one of the first states to legalize for medicinal and recreational use, they've actually seen their crime rates increase," Zahnd said. "They've seen their rates of impaired driving crashes increase, so there are a lot of subsidiary problems that come along with the legalization of marijuana that I’m not certain Missouri is prepared to deal with."

Voters go to the polls on Nov. 6.