Here’s what you need to know about Missouri’s 3 medical marijuana ballot measures

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Missouri could become the 31st state to legalize medical marijuana, but voters will have a tough choice in November.

If you would have asked Sarah Lango, who has a daughter with epilepsy, her thoughts on medical marijuana a few years ago, she would’ve likely been indifferent.

“To be honest, I was very uneducated before,” Lango said. “But Avery has what they call a rare catastrophic form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome.”

Lango said Avery has between 10 to 75 small seizures on any given day. She has intense episodes every couple of months that can last anywhere from 15 minutes to 3 hours.

“It’s really heart-wrenching to watch her endure that,” Lango said.

There is no known cure for Dravet Syndrome. Lango said her daughter isn’t always responsive to the medication that’s currently on the market. Her two-year-old nearly died once after being given medication to treat her condition.

“These kids are getting put on multiple pharmaceutical medicines, but still not getting relief from the seizures in the long-term,” Lango said.

That’s why she wants Missourians to vote yes to legalizing medicinal marijuana.

“It’s typically just a drop of oil on the gums, under the guns that will stop these seizures in their tracks,” Lango said.

There are three separate measures on the ballot surrounding the issue. They are as follows:

Amendment 2 (Medical Marijuana and Veteran Healthcare Services Initiative)

  • Legalize medicinal marijuana
  • Tax marijuana sales at 4 percent
  • Spend revenue on health care services for veterans
  • Allow patients to home-grow
  • New Approach Missouri is the leading the campaign

Amendment 3 (Medical Marijuana and Biomedical Research and Drug Development Institute Initiative)

  • Legalize medicinal marijuana
  • Tax marijuana sales at 15 percent
  • Create marijuana research center in Missouri that Brad Bradshaw, a Springfield physician and attorney who wrote the amendment, would oversee
  • Find The Cures is leading the campaign

Proposition C (Medical Marijuana and Veterans Healthcare Services, Education, Drug Treatment, and Public Safety Initiative)

  • Legalize medicinal marijuana
  • Tax marijuana sales at 2 percent
  • Spend revenue on veterans, drug treatment, education & public safety
  • Missourians for Patient Care is leading the campaign

“Missouri needs to get on board now,” said Dr. Paul Callicoat, who supports passing medical marijuana. “I think we’re a little behind the curve.”

Callicoat believes it could help with the opioid crisis among other reasons. He pointed to a May study in the Journal of the American Medical Association that found fewer opioids were prescribed in states with medical cannabis laws.

“There are other benefits, but personally I don’t think you have to go further than that,” Callicoat said.

However, Platte County prosecuting attorney Eric Zahnd said Missouri’s going about this the wrong way.

"What I worry about is that we don’t typically make drugs legal just through an initiative, petition and referendum,” Zahnd said. “We subject them to rigorous testing to make sure the benefits outweigh the risks. “

Studying marijuana in the United States isn’t easy.

Federally, it’s listed as a schedule one drug -- the same class as heroin and LSD. There are regulatory barriers and the only plant source for research is from the University of Mississippi.

“The THC content in that medicine is somewhere around 2-5 percent,” Callicoat explained. “That’s ridiculous because marijuana on the market right now is somewhere between the 20-25 percent range.”

Still, Zahnd is not just worried about the lack of research. He also fears if medical marijuana passes it could lead to more crime and impaired driving.

“What we don’t have, as we do right now with alcohol, is a good way to test what is impairment and what isn’t, and so I worry as marijuana becomes more and more available that our streets will become less safe,” Zahnd said.

For Lango and her daughter, it’s a matter of not having to look back and ask what if.

“Like, what if I would have had access to medical marijuana?” Lango asked. “Would it have saved her life? Would it have given her a better quality of life? I guess my plea would be for people to educate themselves.”

Voters can take a position on all three measures. If both Amendment 2 and Amendment 3 pass, the one with the most votes wins. If voters approve Proposition C – which is a statute – and one or more of the amendments, it will likely be decided in court.

To read more on each measure, click here.