With less than six months to go, at least one proposal to legalize medicinal use of marijuana in Missouri appears to be in a strong position to get on statewide ballots next year.
New Approach Missouri says it already has collected 100,000 signatures from registered voters, and expects to have well over the necessary 165,000 by the state’s May 6 deadline for submitting initiative petitions.
“This is an issue that really crosses partisan and regional boundaries,’’ said spokesman Jack Cardetti. He cited last year’s successful legalization votes for medical marijuana in Arkansas, North Dakota and Florida.
New Approach Missouri is by far the most visible — and has raised the most money — among the groups that have filed at least 22 pro-pot initiative petitions with the Missouri Secretary of State’s office.
None of the others appear to have launched significant signature-collection efforts.
New Approach’s biggest donor is Drug Policy Action, a New York-based group that has assisted marijuana legalization efforts in several states. The group has donated at least $200,000 to help the Missouri campaign.
Ellen Flenniken, a managing director with Drug Policy Action, said it helped craft the details of New Approach’s ballot proposal.
“The language is really good, so we believe it’s the right way to legalize medical marijuana,” Flenniken said. “We want to support the effort as much as we can.”
New Approach’s proposal would allow licensed physicians to recommend marijuana or related products for patients suffering from dozens of specified illnesses. It also calls for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to issue licenses to growers and to retailers.
A 4 percent tax would be imposed on sales, with an estimated $20 million a year going to veterans services and programs.
Cardetti said veterans deserve the proceeds,