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Veterans Plan Constitutional Challenge if Amendment 3 Passes

MEXICO, Mo. –– A group of Missouri military veterans announced today that Amendment 3, one of three medical marijuana initiatives that will go before voters on November 6, presents such a grave threat to the state’s republican form of government that they plan to file a lawsuit if Amendment 3 passes and gets more votes than either of the other two medical marijuana measures.  The veterans’ opposition to Amendment 3 is both constitutional and pragmatic.

“Many of my fellow veterans suffer from an array of issues that often come with service to the nation, such as chronic pain, multiple symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, and the effects of traumatic brain injuries. The lack of effective treatment options has puts veterans at risk for opioid abuse,” said Todd Scattini, a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army. “We hope that Missouri voters will choose to legalize medical use of marijuana to give us a safe, effective, and affordable way to treat these conditions.”

But Scattini worries that if Amendment 3 gets the most votes on November 6, the newly-legalized medicine would be too expensive for many veterans to use.  That amendment would place a 15 percent tax on the sale of medical marijuana, plus a wholesale tax, with the proceeds of those taxes going to fund an independent “Board of Biomedical Research and Drug Development” whose focus is researching cures for yet-to-be-specified diseases. This Board would initially be headed by the amendment’s proponent, wealthy Springfield trial attorney Brad Bradshaw, who would then have the power to hand-pick all of the Board’s initial members. Even after Bradshaw surrendered control, the Board would continue to choose its own members without any input from or accountability to the state’s voters or their elected officials, and the Board would have vast powers to issue bonds, condemn private property, issue regulations, and make decisions about licensing, all without oversight from the executive or legislative branches of government.

“Amendment 3 would create a completely unprecedented fourth branch of government,” explained Dave Roland, an attorney assisting the veterans. “The very foundation of our constitutional system is separation of powers, checks and balances, due process of law, and ultimate accountability to the people.  Amendment 3 rejects all of these principles.”

The veterans are hopeful that such a lawsuit will prove to be unnecessary. The Missouri Constitution provides that when the voters of the state approve “conflicting measures… at the same election the one receiving the largest affirmative vote shall prevail.”  That means that if Amendment 2, which also legalizes medical marijuana, passes and earns more votes than Amendment 3, Amendment 2 would become the law of the land.  Rather than creating a new, unaccountable governmental agency, Amendment 2 more closely mirrors legalization measures already adopted by other states, putting regulation of marijuana production and dispensing under the state Department of Health and Senior Services, with the medicine being subject to a 4 percent tax whose proceeds would fund health care for veterans.

“We hope that Missourians will do the sensible thing, voting for Amendment 2 and against Amendment 3,” Scattini said. “But if Amendment 3 does pass with the most votes, we will be ready to go to court to defend Missouri’s republican form of government.”