NEWS
Missouri Tried to Pass a Bill Requiring Lawmakers to Get Stoned Before Voting
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The amendment was proposed as a joke to help lawmakers focus on a healthcare bill, but it also included a serious measure to protect the privacy of medical cannabis patients.
Published on May 8, 2020

Missouri lawmakers just shot down one of the most unusual cannabis reform measures ever to be proposed in the state — or perhaps the entire country.

This week, the state House of Representatives voted to reject a proposal that would have required each and every lawmaker to get stoned before showing up to work. Specifically, the measure mandated that “members of the Missouri House shall consume a substantial dose of medicinal marijuana prior to entering the chamber or voting on any legislation.”

State Rep. Andrew McDaniel proposed this off-the-wall measure as an amendment to a healthcare bill that is currently being debated. “It was for the real betterment of all Missourians if some people would chill out,” McDaniel wrote in a recent tweet. The proposal came up for a voice vote this Thursday, and was soundly defeated, although a few legislators were bold enough to say “aye.”

Of course, McDaniel never expected his amendment to succeed. The Republican lawmaker — who actually supports both medical and adult-use legalization — told Marijuana Moment that he proposed the bill to “get everyone to chill out and get a little chuckle.” McDaniel explained that other lawmakers were piling “a whole bunch of crap” amendments onto the bill, and that he hoped his amendment would “get them all to pay attention” and “quit messing it up.”

“During these trying times, we all could certainly use a laugh which this amendment provided,” said Erik Altieri, executive director of NORML, to Marijuana Moment. “Though having state legislators imbibe before session might not be the worst thing to encourage cooperation for the public good. At the very least, perhaps opponents of ending our failed probation on cannabis may finally realize they are ruining hundreds of thousands of lives per year over a plant.”

Although the mandatory pot consumption amendment was doomed to fail, the current healthcare bill does actually contain a serious cannabis reform measure. This provision would prevent any state official or agency from disclosing individual information on any registered medical marijuana patient to any federal government agency, employee, or third party.

Missouri voters legalized medical cannabis in 2018, selecting the most comprehensive of three competing ballot initiatives. But even though 35,000 patients have already registered for the program, the first of the state's long-delayed dispensaries will not be ready to open its doors until at least this summer. Unable to buy their medicine legally, some patients are forced to risk jail time to grow their own medical pot.

Spurred by the success of the medical marijuana ballot, Missouri activists hoped to place an adult-use legalization initiative on this year's ballot. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has made door-to-door signature collection implausible, and activists have decided to postpone their efforts — a fate that many other drug reform initiatives may face this year.

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Chris Moore
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Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
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