Missouri could get another chance at legalizing medical marijuana.
And that could help the real estate market, according to one group trying to get an initiative on the ballot.
Patient advocates with high demand and low supply are not the only likely benefactors to passing the Missouri Patient Care Act — one of three initiatives trying to make it on the ballot this November. One thing that could rise almost as fast as donations to the Missourians for Patient Care ballot effort is warehouse property value for facilities suitable to grow medical cannabis.
In cities that have legalized marijuana across the country, commercial real estate brokers have seen rent rates escalate up to four times what they were before legalized marijuana.
Interested donors and prospective investors met Wednesday at Brentwood Tower to review how the Patient Care Act would impact them if certified to the ballot and passed into law. Supporters from St. Louis County, St. Charles County, and Saint Louis City were in attendance to learn more about the ballot petition.
The Missouri Patient Care Act is a state statutory ballot initiative that would allow patients with qualifying medical condition to legally use medical marijuana with the written consent of a doctor.
Its efforts join a crowded line of other movements trying to get medical pot on the ballot in 2018 — namely New Approach Missouri and The Bradshaw Amendment.
The proposal has key differences with other efforts to legalize medical pot, said Travis Brown, a lobbyist with Pelopidas, LLC — the firm trying to get the initiative on the ballot.
“Missouri Patient Care Act is unique because it’s the only general statute that also specifically writes in local licensing authorities,” Brown said. “We think that this new, high growth that could impact commercial real estate, pharmacies, drug-regulated pharmaceuticals and all the other things from edibles to companion pets even. We think that it’s important that we have written in the statute that would emerge specific roles for local law enforcement, first responders and grant programs to work carefully with those municipalities.”
New Approach is trying to amend the state’s constitution for the second straight election cycle. A constitutional amendment requires a higher signature count to make the ballot than the Patient Care Act, a little more than 160,000.
New Approach Missouri narrowly missed the ballot in 2016 after hundreds of signatures were disqualified.
Brown said those differences will work in his initiative’s favor. The lower bar to make the ballot plus the state statute passed by ballot initiative could be adjusted later by the legislature to refine and fine-tune implementation — a major difference compared to the other two proposed measures.
“The likelihood of a generational decision like that for a Missouri industry like that is that we’ll likely need improvements,” Brown said. “That’s why we allow in our measure the general assembly and legislative body to deal with that.”
Brown said The Patient Care Act’ low tax rate puts it well above the other two initiatives. The Patient Care Act would start at 2 percent, which is half as low as New Approach’s proposed 4 percent and significantly lower than The Bradshaw Amendment, which would create a new state-run marijuana research institute and tax medical pot at a dramatic rate of 15 percent.
“We’re approaching it from the standpoint of we want fast growth and immediate investment and Missouri is already arguably behind about 25 other states or more,” Brown said. “We want a light, regulatory tax with the ability to expand it if we need to. So if we start at 2 percent, our competitors start at 4 percent, twice as much, or at 15 percent, which is dramatically different. I guess reasonable minds can disagree, but we think we have a proper bill written.”
Since the goal is a statutory change and not a constitutional amendment, the effort needs at least 98,618 signatures, according to the Secretary of State’s website, which is roughly 60,000 fewer signatures than the other two measures.
Brown said the goal to reach the necessary amount of signatures is right on track, as is the task of raising money. Missourians for Patient Care announced last week that they have fundraised $250,000 as they work to get the Missouri Patient Care Act on the ballot.
“It’s important when you have less than 16, 18 weeks and you’ve got to raise over $1 million that you put all that on target,” Brown said. “We’ve had nasty, cold weather outside but we are right on target from our January start date. We were probably the last petition to start getting signatures but we may be among the first to finish.”