Legislators in Missouri are pushing to legalize medical marijuana for treating debilitating health conditions amid national concerns over the future of state marijuana laws under President-elect Donald Trump.
Two senators are filing bills to be considered in the 2017 legislative session that would legalize medical marijuana with strict regulations on which patients qualify for a prescription.
A proposal from GOP Sen. Rob Schaaf calls for an expansion of the state’s current marijuana program, which only allows doctors to prescribe extracted marijuana oil for patients with severe epilepsy. The second proposal calls for the state to establish a regulatory structure for the sale and cultivation of medical marijuana, but further details are unknown.
Schaaf wants to open up marijuana access to people suffering from a range of conditions, including cancer, HIV, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, reports International Business.
The bill would allow patients to hold up to 30 days worth of medical marijuana. Current state law allows patients suffering severe epilepsy to possess up to 20 ounces of marijuana extract known as cannabinoid oil.
The proposal comes after an effort by activists to put medical marijuana legalization on the state ballot in November came up shy by roughly 2,000 signatures. It is unclear how much support the bills will garner in the Missouri legislator, but activists say they are already getting ready to secure a ballot vote in 2018.
“At this point we have already filed a petition with the secretary of state to put it on the November 2018 ballot,” Sheila Dundon, a marijuana activist with New Approach Missouri and “Show Me Cannabis,” told KOMU Dec. 21.
Medical marijuana is legal in 28 states and Washington, D.C., where it is also legal for recreational use, and momentum for further legalization appears to be accelerating. State legislators are growing anxious, however, that local autonomy may not be respected by Trump’s pick for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama.
Sessions is a staunch opponent of marijuana reform and some activists worry his appointment may lead to further raids in states where marijuana is legal.
Many states are seeking research grants to look into the viability of marijuana to treat addiction to alcohol and opioids, in addition to medical conditions. Marijuana’s designation as a Schedule I drug, however, means federally-approved research is difficult to attain. Health officials and state politicians are speaking out now, making it clear to the incoming administration they will fight to keep their research programs running.
“The reason this research is so critically important is that it offers hope of a nonaddictive means of effective pain management that can avoid overuse of powerful opioid prescriptions and lifetimes of addiction,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, said at a press conference Friday, according to the Hartford Courant. “It’s treatment, not tripping.”
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