New Approach Missouri is collecting signatures to place on the November 2016 ballot an initiative that, if passed, would establish a medical marijuana program in the Show-Me State. Signatures are due May 8, 2016. This measure would amend the Missouri constitution by creating a right for seriously ill patients to use and safely access medical marijuana.

Qualifying for the program: Patients must be Missouri residents and must register with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. They must pay a $25 fee and submit an application and a certification from a Missouri-licensed physician stating that they have a qualifying medical condition and would benefit from medical cannabis. Physicians cannot issue more certifications than 25% of the number of prescriptions they write for other drugs.

Minors cannot be issued cards without written parental (or guardian) consent. Parents must supervise the administration of medical marijuana to the minors.

Qualifying medical conditions include cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, and any terminal illness. In addition, any chronic condition that a physician determines could benefit from medical cannabis treatment qualifies a patient for the program.

Access to medical cannabis: The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services would establish a regulatory framework and grant licenses to grow, manufacture, and distribute medical cannabis. There are population-based limits on the number of cultivation facilities, product manufacturers, and dispensaries. For example, there could be no more than one dispensary for every 30,000 state residents. Regulations will include child-resistant packing for edibles, safety precautions, criminal background checks, and more. The department would also submit an annual public report. A patient (or a patient’s caregiver) may cultivate up to six plants in an enclosed locked facility equipped with security devices.

Limitations: The measure would maintain the current prohibition on public use of cannabis and driving under its influence. Patients may purchase no more than six ounces of dry marijuana during a 30-day period. No facilities could be located within 1,000 feet of a pre-existing school or church. Localities can institute further time, place, and manner restrictions on facilities.

Taxation: The proposal would levy a 4% retail sales tax on medical cannabis. After retaining no more than 5% for actual collection costs, the rest would be deposited into the newly established Missouri Veterans Health Care Fund for veterans’ benefit including health care services, drug rehabilitation services, housing assistance, job training, and tuition assistance.