A Missouri based medical marijuana coalition is taking the necessary steps to further the decriminalization of medical cannabis in the Show-Me State. New Approach Missouri has filed for petition to permit state licensed physicians to recommend medical marijuana to patients suffering from certain crippling illnesses.
“We’re a coalition of patients, healthcare professionals, veterans, law enforcement, that have all come together and decided now is the time that patients working with their doctors ought to have this as a medical option,”
said Jack Cardetti, spokesman for New Approach Missouri.
Many of the arguments held against the state legislation regarding medical cannabis are based on success stories from former sufferers. Medical cannabis users, such as Iraq War Vet and Missouri-native Sarah Rung, have found relief from symptoms caused by several pain-inflicting illnesses. Rung’s relief came after seeking the attention of medical marijuana while on a trip to Oregon, where medicinal use of cannabis is legal.
“My time in Oregon was magical, but it’s time to bring that magic back to Missouri. Patients, veterans, citizens of Missouri, we deserve that option. We deserve that freedom to choose the medicine that we want,”
As the battle against medical marijuana continues, groups such as “New Approach Missouri” hope to shed light on the positive effects it can bring to those who can seek refuge in it. Almost 116,00 valid signatures are needed from Missouri citizens in order for the measure to be put on the general election ballot in 2016. The group does not plan on giving up without a fight to help end patient suffering for those who would benefit from the use of medical cannabis.
Current marijuana laws in Missouri are some of the harshest in the United States. A person found in possession of over one ounce of cannabis faces a felony charge that can come with a sentence of up to seven years in jail and up to $5,000 in fines. Minor efforts have been made to reform marijuana policies in the show-me-state. In 2017, SB 491 will be enacted. This act creates a new classification of misdemeanor offenses to be called Class D. The same bill allows for a first-time, non-violent offense of possessing less than 10 grams of marijuana to qualify as only a Class D misdemeanor instead of a Class A, thereby slightly lessening the punishment. That law will not take effect until 2017.
Although another measure to regulate and legalize recreational use and retail sale of marijuana has already been filed, this proposal includes additional sections. This initiative, aiming to be included on the 2016 ballot, would legalize, regulate and tax retail cannabis sales for adults aged 21 years and older, establish a medical marijuana program for qualifying patients, allow for home cultivation by adults. Also included, is a section allowing for legal cultivation, sale and distribution of industrial hemp. This measure also contains a clause that will expunge previous non-violent marijuana convictions obtained in the state of Missouri.
This petition was just filed with the office of Secretary of State Jason Kander, and remains open for public comment at this time. It will remain open for comment for at least 30 days, at which time it will either be approved for circulation or shut down. If the wording of this version is approved for circulation by the Secretary of State’s office, the group may begin petitioning for the signatures needed to place the amendment on the 2016 ballot.
A very limited medical marijuana amendment has already been passed establishing very strict regulations for patients suffering from the one and only qualifying condition, epilepsy, to have safe access to cannabidiol (CBD) oil. Two licenses will be granted for producers and cultivators of the cannabis that will be used to make the CBD oil. The window to submit applications for those licenses recently ended.
Many marijuana advocates disagree with enacting such limited medical marijuana laws because it upholds prohibition of a substance believed to be no more harmful than alcohol. Only time will tell whether voters in Missouri will have the chance to vote for or against a marijuana legalization amendment in 2016.
photo credit: planetware