A medical cannabis trade association launched on Monday ahead of a potential November vote to legalize medical marijuana in Missouri.

The nonprofit group, MoCannTrade, is composed of professionals from the cannabis industry and other relevant industries, according to a news release.

"The Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association exists to serve as the voice of business and trade for this quickly emerging industry," said Andrew Mullins, MoCannTrade executive director, in the release. "MoCannTrade is prepared to help establish a safe, successful medical cannabis industry and affiliated trade statewide."

The formation of the group comes two weeks after Oklahoma voters legalized medical marijuana. Advocacy groups in Missouri hailed the decision and said it could give the state the momentum it needs to pass something this year.

New Approach Missouri, a medical marijuana advocacy group, gathered more than double the required signatures for an initiative petition that could be on the November ballot, if certified by the secretary of state's office. The deadline to certify petitions is Aug. 14.

In an interview Tuesday, Mullins said the trade association's board is composed of both medical cannabis and business industry leaders that came together to take a proactive approach in the event that Missouri legalizes medical marijuana this fall.

"What we’re trying to do is ensure that what happens in Missouri is as issue-free as possible from the trade perspective," Mullins said. "If you look at other states across the U.S. that have some form of medical cannabis, some have encountered challenges with program implementation."

To help ensure a seamless implementation, the association would offer support through education and networking, among other resources. It would also work with the governing body that would oversee the administration and distribution of medical cannabis.

"We’ll be sharing information and expertise for folks that are going to be putting together their business plans and making an application once the industry materializes," Mullins said. "In addition, we’ll provide outreach and impact with each of those governing bodies to guide them with the knowledge and expertise that we have as a board."

Four initiative petitions were submitted to the secretary of state for signature processing. Three of them would result in a constitutional change, while the fourth would change state statute. Each petition lists a different governing body that would oversee the operations of the industry.

New Approach Missouri's petition is a constitutional change and the program would be administered by the Department of Health and Senior Services. The group failed to get a petition on the ballot in 2016 after falling 2,000 signatures short.

Reporter

Tyler covers Jasper County, which includes the Carthage City Council, Jasper County Commission and anything in between. Tyler can be reached at twornell@joplinglobe.com or 417.627.7258.