Missouri NORML lobbies the Capitol
By Brandon Dunn
On Wednesday morning, members of Missouri NORML from across the state converged on the Capitol, aiming to discuss the five bills that Missouri NORML leadership says have a chance of passing this year that would impact the cannabis industry and its consumers.
Members from Clinton, Poplar Bluff, and St. Charles, among other cities, met to discuss a plan of action for their lobby day and hear from Rep. Ron Hicks (R-District 102) about his bill, SB341, and other legislation currently working its way through the legislature. NORML supports Hicks’ bill.
Hicks identified with many of the activists’ concerns and experiences, but also spoke plainly about how marijuana is viewed inside the Capitol.
“When you go and talk to these guys, you need to be aware of who you’re talking to,” Hicks said. “A lot of these guys want nothing to do with marijuana, and if that’s all they see your bill as is something to help people get high, they’re just going to stop listening.”
“We’ve wasted too much time and money chasing cannabis,” Hicks said. “But if you talk about helping people, and especially about criminal justice reform, that’s where you’ll turn heads. Everyone here is here because they want to help people, and if marijuana’s here to stay then they may as well help the people that they can.”
Dan Viets, chair of Missouri Cannabis Industry Association and President of New Approach Missouri, helped to divide up groups and assigned each group a floor of the building. Their mission – to speak to each legislator, or a member of their staff, about the five pieces of legislation that brought them to the Capitol on Wednesday and to explain their position.
Armed with pins, flyers, and spirit, the teams departed the hearing room and scattered throughout the building to accomplish their directive.
“It went very well,” Viets said. “We covered the entire Capitol building, there might be a few exceptions, but we visited almost every legislator’s office. In each case, we left with them a sheet of information about 5 bills that are moving – three that we are concerned about, two that we are supporting.”
SupportingLanguage copied from Missouri NORML leaflet
SB 341 sponsored by Rep. Ron Hicks would require the Department of Health and Senior Services to automatically pursue expungement of marijuana possession misdemeanors and city ordinance violations for medical marijuana patients. This bill has passed the House and is pending before the Senate.
HB 824 sponsored by Rep. Rick Francis is a bill which would greatly expand the “Hemp Pilot Program” established by the General Assembly a couple of years ago. Under the federal Farm Bill, this bill would allow Missouri farmers to cultivate hemp for agricultural and industrial purposes on a large scale.
OpposedLanguage copied from Missouri NORML leaflet
HB 829 sponsored by Rep. David Wood of Versailles would take money intended for veterans’ healthcare and other benefits under Amendment 2 and instead use that money to pay the state’s legal bills for litigation relating to medical marijuana. We are strongly opposed to this bill and we are joined by Missouri veterans’ organizations.
SB 5 sponsored by Sen. David Sater is a terrible bill. It would make it much harder for Missouri citizens to place any issue on the ballot and much harder to pass a Constitutional amendment like Amendment 2. Many of us hope to see adult use legalization of marijuana placed on the Missouri ballot within the next few years. If SB 5 passes, it will be almost impossible to do that.
SB 6, also sponsored by Sen. Sater, would ban the manufacture and sale of many forms of medical marijuana edible products including any product “designed to appeal to children” as well as any product in the form of a “human, animal or fruit”. Many fear that products like brownies or cookies or soft drinks infused with medical cannabis would be illegal under this bill.