Activists draft marijuana regulations

They want distribution law if Proposition 1 passes.
Sunday, October 31, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 10:21 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Even if Proposition 1 passes Nov. 2, medical marijuana patients will have to continue relying on street dealers to obtain the drug.

Dan Viets, a member of the Columbia Alliance for Patients and Education, or CAPE, one group behind Tuesday's referendum, said including a ballot provision that would allow patients to legally obtain marijuana would be “asking for too much.”

“We didn’t feel we could address that through a city ordinance,” Viets said. “People think we’re pushing the envelope enough. We thought we would not be able to pass it.”

Viets said that if Proposition 1 passes, the next step would be for Missouri to pass a state law regulating distribution.

“We know we have people who would be willing to sponsor such a law in the state legislature next year,” Viets said. Two of those are Democrats Sen. Rita Days of St. Louis and Rep. Vicki Walker of Kansas City, Viets said.

In anticipation of Proposition 1’s passage, medical marijuana proponents are drafting plans similar to the buyer’s cooperative established in California after the passage of Proposition 215 there in 1996.

Under that plan, state-licensed “buyer’s clubs” are run by people who grow and cultivate the marijuana, then distribute it from locations around the state to patients who have received a doctor’s consent.

Columbia Police Chief Randy Boehm said he is concerned that a doctor’s consent would be difficult for law enforcement officers to authenticate.

“Obviously they (doctors) can’t prescribe it, so we’re not quite clear what the standards would be (for consent),” Boehm said. “How would we verify the written documentation? There are complications with this on a number of levels.”

CAPE’S executive director, Sterling Neeb, said passage of Proposition 1 and Proposition 2 — a separate measure that would move all misdemeanor marijuana possession cases to municipal court and set a maximum punishment of a $250 fine — would “soften up” the rest of the state for legalizing medical marijuana. Passage could also prompt more legislative support for a way to legally provide medical marijuana for patients.

“The intention is to grow support among certain groups,” Neeb said.

CAPE has raised more than $53,000 for the two referendums — $50,000 of it from the Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project, Viets said.

Unlike April 2003, when voters rejected a similar referendum, no organized opposition to the marijuana initiatives has emerged.

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