June 17, 2020

What Was Missouri Amendment 3?

June 17, 2020

Missouri amendment 3 was an initiative placed on Missouri’s November 2018 ballot, which would have amended the state constitution to legalize medical marijuana and fund a medical research institute with the tax dollars. The catch was that the program would have been administered by the drafter and leader of the Amendment 3 campaign: Springfield trial attorney Brad Bradshaw. Bradshaw personally contributed more than $2 million in his bid to pass the proposal.

Bradshaw did not care as much about the many medical uses of cannabis as he did generating tax dollars for the medical research center he wanted to build. That’s why he named his campaign “Find the Cures.”

Unfortunately, it’s also why he wrote a 15 percent retail tax on medical marijuana into Amendment 3 as well as a wholesale tax on top of that. Amendment 3 proposed to levy the largest tax on medical marijuana of any program in the United States by a substantial margin. Such high taxes hurt patient access in states where such high marijuana taxes are implemented and keep the illicit market flourishing.

Did Amendment 3 Pass?

Missouri Amendment 3 was sponsored by Brad Bradshaw and lost to Amendment 2 which legalized medical cannabis in Missouri

Oh my, no; Amendment 3 did not pass in Missouri. It failed by a more than two-to-one margin: 69 percent against to 31 percent in favor. To understand why it failed so badly, we need to talk about what else was on the ballot that day.

Amendment 3 was one of three different medical marijuana proposals on the November 2018 ballot in Missouri. The other two proposals were Proposition C and Amendment 2.

What Was Proposition C?

Proposition C was a statutory proposal led primarily by industry interests. It had a broad list of qualifying conditions, but did not allow for any form of patient cultivation, which is fairly typical of an entirely industry-sponsored campaign. However, because it was a statutory proposal, it would be trumped by either Amendment 2 or Amendment 3 if they passed, which made the real conflict between the two amendments.

Who Supported Missouri Amendment 2?

Missouri Amendment 2 was supported both by activists and grassroots organizations such as the state’s NORML chapters as well as Missourians hoping to find a place in the medical cannabis industry. It was the broadest of all the proposals, with extensive qualifying conditions and protections for patient cultivation. 

Of course, I am a bit biased, as I served as the campaign manager for Amendment 2 and squared off against Bradshaw on what form medical marijuana should take in Missouri. We had initially tried to work with Bradshaw, because it made little sense to put multiple competing measures on the ballot at the same time. However, we could not support a measure with such a high tax rate on patients or anything that put him personally in charge of the program.

He would not be persuaded that those were bad ideas both as matters of policy and politics, so we had to go our separate ways. We were unsurprised when scientific polling confirmed our initial hunch: voters supported medical marijuana, but they did not want the program to be run by an unelected and unaccountable weed czar.

What Were the Results of the Vote on Amendment 3 in Missouri?

No one had ever successfully navigated a marijuana legalization campaign (whether medical or recreational) with multiple competing measures on the ballot, so we were in uncharted waters. Thankfully, we were able to thread the needle of explaining why Amendment 2 was a sensible approach to medical cannabis supported by a broad coalition and Amendment 3 was the vanity project of one very wealthy person.

At the end of the night, the results were crystal clear. Whereas 69 percent of Missourians voted against Bradshaw’s Amendment 3, 67 percent of them voted for Amendment 2! (Proposition C failed by a narrower 44 to 56 percent margin.)

That’s a Wrap on Missouri Amendment 3

Amendment 3 was certainly one of the most unusual attempts at medical marijuana legalization, but we should all be thankful that it will be confined to a historical footnote instead of enshrined in Missouri’s Constitution!

Read More About Cannabis Legalization


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