Last week, a Missouri state House committee passed a bill that would legalize marijuana for specific medical purposes, and effectively thwart the federal prohibition on the same. The vote was 10-1.
Introduced by Rep. David Hinson (R-119) on Feb. 3, House Bill 800 (HB800) would set up a program to distribute medical marijuana to certain eligible patients, something federal law considers illegal.
HB800 passed through the House Emerging Issues Committee on March 12 by a 10-1 vote. It will now be heard in the House Select Committee on General Laws before it can receive a full vote in the state house.
Under HB800, qualifying medical marijuana patients would be allowed to possess up to 30 grams “of usable cannabis during a period of fourteen days and that is derived solely from an intrastate source.” Medical marijuana would be regulated by the state division of alcohol and tobacco control, and they would be responsible for administering the program.
Patients would qualify for medical marijuana if they suffer from “cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and the symptoms thereof, ulcerative colitis, agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, or the treatment of such conditions” as verified by a licensed physician.
In addition, patients would be eligible for medical marijuana if they suffer from “a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces one or more of the following: cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe debilitating pain, severe nausea, seizures, or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including but not limited to those characteristics of multiple sclerosis” as verified by a licensed physician. The state department of health and senior services would be authorized to add more illnesses to the list of qualifying conditions per their discretion.
Dispensaries and caregivers would be authorized under the bill as well. Dispensaries, called “medical cannabis centers” in HB800, would be authorized by the state provided the owner possesses a “medical cannabis center license and a medical cannabis cultivation and production facility license” with up to 30 of these facilities authorized throughout Missouri. An adult may be a caregiver provided that they receive special permission from qualifying medical patients to possess and cultivate marijuana on their behalf. Applicants to be caregivers and dispensary owners may be denied by the regulatory authority if they do not pass mandated background checks.
Although this bill draws a legal distinction between recreational and medical marijuana, it still represents an enormous step in the right direction for cannabis rights advocates in the state of Missouri. The top-down federal mandates that have failed for so many decades are being replaced with a more decentralized, compassionate approach that is responsive to the needs of the people.
Activists should embrace any opportunity that they have to make it more difficult for people to be locked in cages for the non-violent non-crime of marijuana possession. The end of the federal drug war is on its way whether detractors like it or not. Measures such as HB800 can help grease the wheels on our way toward that inevitable goal!
HOW TO SUPPORT THIS BILL
If you live in the state of Missouri, contact your state legislators immediately. It is important for you to politely urge them to support and co-sponsor HB800. That is how you can make a difference in the fight against cannabis prohibition.
If you live in different state, contact your state legislators and urge them to introduce a supporting bill to HB800 such as our P.E.A.C.E (Preventing Excessive Allocations for Cannabis Enforcement) Act.