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New Approach, a pro-cannabis activist group in Missouri, is working towards getting medical marijuana on the ballot for the 2018 election. The group came close to being on the ballot in 2016, but a judge ruled that over 10,000 of the signatures they had collected were invalid due to not having the proper county listed on the petitions.

Now, to ensure that they don’t miss the same opportunity a second time, the group has started well in advance – and they have already collected over 100,000 of the roughly 170,000 signatures needed in order for their initiative to be approved for the 2018 ballot. This time they are validating signatures as they go, to ensure that they don’t run into the same problem at the end of the process this time around.

“Our goal is to make Missouri the 30th state that allows state-licensed physicians to recommend medical marijuana to patients with debilitating illnesses,” said Jack Cardetti, spokesman for New Approach Missouri.

As it turns out, New Approach is not the only activist group looking to get legal marijuana on the ballot for 2018. A Springfield attorney and physician, Dr. Brad Bradshaw, has proposed a constitutional amendment as well. Even though he is the only backer of the amendment, the canvassers have already collected 142,000 of the needed 170,000 signatures. His hope is that revenue from medical marijuana taxes would be used to finance medical research.

There is also a third attempt to get medical marijuana legalized happening in Missouri, backed by Missouri House Speaker Steve Tilley and former state Representative Mike Colona. However, their hope is to change the state statute, not create a constitutional amendment – which both requires less signatures, and would allow state lawmakers to make changes to the law once it was implemented.

Their group, called Missourians for Patient Care, has not actually started gathering signatures yet – but with the next election over a year away still they are working on getting things moving in plenty of time. Their petition has been approved by the secretary of state’s office, as well as a fourth group working towards legalization – Missouri Marijuana Legalization Movement.

However, this last group is working towards full recreational legalization, not just providing legal access to medical cannabis. These four activist groups all have the right idea – start early to ensure that they will have enough signatures to be placed on the ballot long before next November. Once the signatures have been validated, they will be able to focus on getting voters on board.

With all the efforts being put into getting legalization on the ballot in one form or another, it appears that Missouri has a good chance at being one of the states to see medical marijuana, and maybe even recreational cannabis sales, legalized in 2018.