By Dan Viets
On the morning of Thursday, October 8, an initiative to legalize access to cannabis for medical purposes with the approval of a physician was filed with the office of the Missouri Secretary of State in Jefferson City, Missouri. The petition was filed by Sheila Dundon, Registered Nurse and cancer survivor, on behalf of New Approach Missouri, a campaign committee supported by Show-Me Cannabis, among others, which was formed for the sole purpose of passing this initiative in 2016. Sheila was accompanied at the office of the Secretary of State by Tom Mundell, President of the Missouri Association of Veterans' Organizations and past Commander of State VFW, Jack Cardetti, campaign consultant for New Approach Missouri, and myself.
After filing the petition, we all went to the Missouri State Capitol Building where we addressed a news conference at 10:00 a.m. in the capitol rotunda. Also participating in our press conference was Columbia cerebral palsy patient and citizen activist, Kathleen Weinschenk. I introduced each of these speakers after pointing out that during my 30 years of representing marijuana defendants in Missouri I have seen dozens of people who were clearly in need of marijuana for treatment of serious medical problems, but who were treated exactly like people accused of serious crimes.
Representatives of at least ten Missouri news organizations attended, including ABC and CBS television affiliates, Missouri Radio Network, National Public Radio, the Columbia Daily Tribune, The Saint Louis Post Dispatch and KMOX Radio from St. Louis. The Post-Dispatch, in particular, ran an excellent article on the filing, and the Associated Press story was published indozens ofnewspapersaroundthe state --- and wellbeyond.
Following that press conference, Tom Mundell, Jack Cardetti and I went to St. Louis for a second press conference at 2:00 p.m. at the Crown Plaza downtown Hotel. The St. Louis press conference was a much more in-depth opportunity for patients and other reform advocates to discuss their reasons for supporting the initiative in a quieter and less hurried environment. John Payne introduced Iraq War combat veteran, Sarah Runge, Missouri Police Chief Tony Kirk, Crohn's disease patient Michael Mandel and his father, retired bio-statistician from Washington University Medical School, Stephen Mandel.
Each of the witnesses gave moving testimony about their experiences with injuries and ailments which respond favorably to cannabis or those others close to them who have had such experiences. The St. Louis press conference was attended by the two largest radio stations in the St. Louis area, KMOX and KTRS, andyou can listen to it in its entirety on KTRS' website here. KSDK also interviewed Tom Mundell after the press conference for this very personal and moving story.
We anticipate that it will be near the end of November when the petitions are approved for circulation. However, it is also possible that additional versions may be submitted, so if you have comments, please email them to email@example.com.
Finally, I encourage you to support this campaign with a contribution, as I have already done, which you can make at the New Approach Missouri website here.