The Maneater

Columbia City Council declares support for medical marijuana in Missouri

After voting unanimously in favor of a medical marijuana resolution, Columbia will begin lobbying with state legislators and supporting the New Approach Missouri initiative.

The logo of New Approach Missouri, the campaign committee circulating the petition to bring a vote on allowing Missouri physicians to discuss medical marijuana treatment with their patients. courtesy of New Approach Missouri

Earlier this month, Columbia City Council members unanimously passed a motion declaring the city’s support for statewide medical marijuana legalization.

The council passed a general resolution stating its “support for legislation providing legal access to cannabis as a medicine together with the cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes; endorsing the Missouri Medical Marijuana Initiative.” The council decided to avoid more specific initiatives whose ability to garner support for a statewide initiative was unclear.

The petition that began circulation in early 2016 is called New Approach Missouri. It asks that Missouri physicians be allowed to discuss medical marijuana treatment with their patients.

The petition had over 200,000 signatures as of Feb. 20.

Ward 2 Councilman Michael Trapp, who has worked as a counselor and director of the substance abuse treatment center Phoenix Health Programs, has been a leading advocate of the resolution. Trapp said the resolution’s purpose is to add the issue to Columbia’s lobbying agenda. Trapp has said marijuana is useful in treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and spasmodic illnesses, as well as pain management.

“By adding it to our lobbying agenda, we can engage with state government over implementation issues after the measure passes,” Trapp said in an email.

While Columbia begins lobbying at the state level, there is still much to do for Columbia residents who support the initiative. Trapp said they can continue to sign New Approach Missouri’s petition, as well as support its Get Out the Vote efforts.

“Most importantly they can vote for the measure and get their friends to the polls likely on Aug. 2,” Trapp said in an email. “If it is on the primary ballot as I suspect it will be, it will be a low turnout election.”

Twenty-nine states and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana for medical purposes. Missouri would be the 30th.

Advocacy groups at MU like the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and Students for Sensible Drug Policy have supported medical marijuana legislation, holding meetings and petitioning in Speakers Circle.

If the measure reaches its goal of roughly 280,000 signatures, New Approach Missouri hopes to get the initiative for legalizing medical marijuana on the ballot in November.

Edited by Skyler Rossi | srossi@themaneater.com

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