At a time when many politicians want to legalize medical marijuana for the sole purpose of taxing it, the mayor of Cottleville, Missouri wants to legalize medical marijuana for a nobler, and far less greedy, purpose. Mayor Don Yarber wants to get medical marijuana legalized in Missouri because it helps patients, which he witnessed firsthand. Mr. Yarber’s wife, who battled breast cancer, would medicate herself with marijuana after cancer treatments over a decade ago. The mayor doesn’t necessarily think marijuana should be sold in Missouri, but he is absolutely for sick patients using marijuana to help cope with their conditions and growing it for themselves.
The mayor is so adamant about the need for a medical marijuana program in Missouri that he is putting the issue to a non-legally binding poll in his city April 6th. Citizens of Cottleville will vote on two propositions, Prop C and Prop V. The first, Prop C, asks voters if they support Missouri House Bill 1670, which would legalize medical marijuana. If the bill was passed, it would result in a special election in November of 2011, at which point the entire state could decide if they wanted a medical marijuana program . The second proposition, Prop V, asks voters if they want the legislature to put HB 1670 on this November’s ballot.
"People either like the idea or not," Yarber said. "They are going to vote yes or no, but at least they will have the opportunity to cast a vote. I'm giving them the opportunity to express themselves. I wish our elected representatives in Jefferson City would do the same. Everyone I've talked to has been in favor of this. I've not received any negative e-mails. All the feedback has been positive."
However, not everyone is a fan of medical marijuana in Missouri. "Medical marijuana - simply stated, it is not our focus right now," said Kristen Blanchard, spokeswoman for Missouri House Speaker Ron Richards, a Republican. Maybe if Mayor Don Yarber was calling for ‘multiple billion dollar’ tax potential, he would get more consideration at the State Capital. I tip my hat to you Mr. Don Yarber. It takes a lot of courage to speak out the way you have in favor of medical marijuana.
The Missouri House needs to give this issue more consideration, and not hide behind the poor excuse that they are focusing on budget shortfalls. It doesn’t cost anything to put the issue before voters. If it was a medical marijuana program that allowed home cultivation without dispensaries, it wouldn’t cost much to implement and operate. Patients would be charged their yearly fee, which would pay for the handful of employees that would be needed to operate the registry system (like in Oregon). Only hire new employees as the patient registry grows. If there is a need for additional funding, just use the money that is currently being dedicated to investigating and prosecuting sick patients who use marijuana to help their situation.
Photo by Raymond Castile