JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (March 18, 2016) – A Missouri bill that would legalize medical marijuana has passed through two important committees. If signed into law, it would set the stage to block in practice the federal prohibition on the same.
Rep. Dave Hinson (R-98) introduced House Bill 2213 (HB2213) in January. Titled the Missouri Compassionate Care Act, the legislation would legalize the use, sale and cultivation of marijuana for medical use in Missouri, something illegally banned by the federal government.
The House Emerging Issues Committee passed HB2213 11-1 last month. The House Select Committee on General Laws approved the measure 8-2 yesterday.
If HB2213 passes, Missourians with “debilitating conditions” will be able to get a registry identification card authorizing them to obtain and use medical marijuana. The list of conditions will be determined by physicians, with at least 10 certifying a given ailment qualifies.
Under the proposed law, the Missouri Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control would regulate the cultivation, manufacture, distribution and sale of medicinal cannabis. The agency would be able to issue up to 30 licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries and 30 licenses for cultivation centers, subject to strict regulation.
Despite federal marijuana prohibition, measures such as HB2213 remain perfectly lawful, and there is little if anything the feds can do to stop them in practice.
EFFECT ON FEDERAL PROHIBITION
Passage of this bill would partially remove one layer of law prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana in Missouri, but federal prohibition would remain in place.
Of course, the federal government lacks any legitimate authority to ban or regulate marijuana within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.
While this Missouri bill would not alter federal law, they would take a step toward stopping in effect the federal ban. FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By easing the state laws, the Missouri legislature would remove some of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.
Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly-budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.
If the Missouri legislature passes HB2213, the Show Me State would join a growing number of states simply ignoring federal prohibition. Colorado, Washington state and Alaska have all legalized both recreational and medical marijuana, and 23 states now allow cannabis for medical use. With nearly half the country legalizing marijuana, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition any more. The feds need state cooperation to fight the “drug war,” and that has rapidly evaporated in the last few years with state legalization, practically thwarting the ban.
“The lesson here is pretty straight forward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats,” public policy analyst Michael Boldin said.
HB2213 will now move on to the full House for further consideration.