JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Nov. 6, 2018) – Today, Missouri voters easily approved a state constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana. The measure sets the foundation for the people there to nullify federal cannabis prohibition in practice and effect.
At the time of publication, Amendment 2 was approved by a vote of 64-36 with 50% reporting.
Under the new law, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services will establish a licensing structure for the cultivation, testing and sale of medical marijuana. Patients can grow up to six marijuana plants; a licensed caretaker can cultivate up to 18.
Doctors will be able to recommend medical cannabis for any condition they see fit; there is no specific list of qualifying disorders.
The amendment also requires the establishment of not less than 24 dispensaries in each Missouri congressional district. Revenue from the 4 percent sales tax on medical marijuana will fund the program with the remainder going to the Missouri Veterans Commission.
All of this is illegal under federal law.
Despite this, Missouri voters easily passed the measure, making the state the 33rd to actively defy the unconstitutional federal prohibition on a plant. Over the summer, Oklahoma became state number 32 when voters there passed State Question 788 by a vote of 57-43.
Two competing measures in Missouri, Amendment 3 (with a high tax rate) and Proposition C (with an easy path for the legislature to make changes) were soundly rejected by voters.
Eapen Thampy has been involved with the effort to legalize cannabis in Missouri for years. He said passage of Amendment 2 takes a great first step. He noted that the reason why different interest groups independently backed multiple marijuana initiative petitions comes down to who will control the process of licensing the lucrative commercial marijuana market. For years now, consumers could use sites like https://www.sacredkratom.com/buy-kratom/ and get quality products delivered, the same is in store for the legal marijuana market. This is obvious to many big players in the industries affected.
“Ultimately, it will be up to Governor Parson and a Republican-dominated legislature to approach implementation from a free market, anti-cronyist viewpoint,” he said.
32 AND COUNTING
In 1996, voters in California passed Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act. This made the state the first in the country to legalize marijuana for medical purposes despite a total federal prohibition on the plant.
The Clinton administration immediately opposed the effort and asserted that federal enforcement would still continue. Attorney General Janet Reno said, ”We want to make clear that Federal law still applies.” In Jan. 1997, the Los Angeles Times repeated the same message, noting that “Federal officials … vowed to pursue California physicians who recommend marijuana for their patients.”
Despite these threats, the people of California moved forward with their medical marijuana industry, which grew to a whopping $2.8 billion per year. At the end of Clinton’s term in office, seven states had medical marijuana laws on the books.
That number roughly doubled to 13 by the time George W. Bush left office, and did so again by the time Barack Obama finished his two terms. At the end of 2016, there were 29 states with marijuana legalization (either medical or recreational or both) laws on the books. Last year, West Virginia became state number 30. Earlier this year, Utah became state number 31 with an extremely limited medical marijuana law, but voters there are considering a much broader measure on today’s ballot as well.
EFFECT ON FEDERAL PROHIBITION
In January, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Obama-era “Cole memo” which outlined Obama administration policy that directed federal prosecutors to take a somewhat hands-off approach in states that have legalized marijuana.
Sessions wrote, “In deciding which marijuana activities to prosecute under these laws with the Department’s finite resources, prosecutors should follow the well-established principles that govern all federal prosecutions,” by considering the seriousness of the crime and its impact on the community, according to the AP. Marijuana activists were up in arms, concerned that this could cripple the growing industry. CNN called this a “seismic shift.”
But as Tenth Amendment Center Communications Director Mike Maharrey noted, it did no such thing.
“In fact, the policy shift is just rhetoric and will have little to no practical effect in the long run,” said Maharrey
The federal government doesn’t have the personnel and resources to enforce federal marijuana laws in states where cannabis is legal. Figures indicate it would take as much as 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly-budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. This doesn’t even include the cost of prosecution.
Furthermore, FBI statistics show that as much as 98% of all enforcement actions are done by local law enforcement, or with their help. By ending state enforcement of any federal prohibition that is legal under state law, states like Oregon, Colorado and even Oklahoma and Missouri have swept away most of the basis for the vast majority of marijuana arrests in each state.
Without state cooperation and support, the feds are essentially impotent when it comes to enforcing its unconstitutional marijuana prohibition.
The lesson here is pretty straight forward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats.
By passing Amendment 2, Missouri voters just put another long-overdue nail in the coffin of this unconstitutional federal marijuana prohibition.
As noted in a Tenth Amendment Center video from 2015, “It’s only a matter of time before they overwhelm federal enforcement capabilities completely, and the feds will have to act like they’ve decided to drop the issue just to save face.”
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