JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Columbia Daily Tribune reported that Missouri has passed legislation that would make medical marijuana legal in the state. The bill would legalize medical marijuana for anyone over 18 years of age with a terminal illness, cancer, Alzheimer's, or PTSD. The legislation was passed in a vote of 112 to 44.
House Bill 1554 was originally only intended for people with terminal illnesses to have access to marijuana but was amended by the Missouri House to add chronic and debilitating illnesses to the list of eligible conditions.
Rep. Paul Curtman (R) told his colleagues how he had seen fellow Marines commit suicide due to PTSD and said that they could have benefited from medical marijuana. The bill will now go to the Senate for consideration.
The Department of Health and Senior Services would have the authority to expand the list of qualifying conditions if a minimum of 10 physicians made a request to add an illness.
Rep. Jim Neely (R-MO) sponsored the measure said that the General Assembly needs to act before voters hit the polls in November if they want to control regulation. "Voters of this state may very well take the decision out of the hands of the politicians and put it in the hands of the voters," said Neely, who is also licensed to practice medicine.
Voters Could Legalize Medical Marijuana in November
Nelly is correct. There are other efforts to legalize medical marijuana in the state that could be successful if they are passed by voters this November. Polls show that 92 percent of Americans support legalizing medical marijuana, and a marijuana advocacy group in the state called A New Approach just submitted the required signatures for a ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana with a constitutional amendment on Friday.
The organization collected 370,000 signatures for a proposal giving physicians sole discretion when deciding on medical marijuana for patients. The bill passed by the Missouri House would only allow specific conditions to qualify. The ballot initiative would tax medical marijuana with a 4 percent sales tax that would be distributed to the veterans of Missouri for medical costs.
Jack Cardetti is the spokesman for A New Approach and said that voters are more informed than the politicians which is why marijuana advocates want the measure on the ballot so that the voters can decide.
Find the Cure is another group that submitted more than 300,000 signatures on Friday but proposes a 15 percent tax on medical marijuana. Find the Cure is a ballot backed by Springfield attorney and physician Dr. Brad Bradshaw.
Missourians for Patient Care is another effort to legalize the drug but instead focuses on a re-write of state law and would tax weed at a rate of 2 percent. Sunday is the deadline for submitting the needed signatures.
Opposers to the bill said that the FDA should decide if something is medicine, not the state. Rep. Kirk Matthews (R) was concerned about the lack of medical research and said that other medicines don't become medicine by an act of the legislature.
Rep. J. Eggleston (R) echoed Reefer Madness when he said that the legislation to legalize medical marijuana was a monster that would not be controllable, adding that the measure made him think of Frankenstein.
Rep. Neely says that his years as a physician gives him perspective, adding that nurses working in hospice also think medical marijuana is beneficial.
ABC News reported that taxing the legal marijuana industry in Missouri could bring nearly $5 million annually by 2021. Medical marijuana could earn Missouri an estimated $115 million-a-year.