JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (May 1, 2018) – Today, the Missouri House passed a bill to legalize medical marijuana for qualifying patients in the state, setting the foundation to nullify unconstitutional federal cannabis prohibition in practice.
Rep. James Neely (R-Cameron) introduced House Bill 1554 (HB1554) in January. The legislation would expand the state’s “Right to try Law” and provisions authorizing the use of hemp extract for qualifying patients to allow terminally ill patients to access smokeless medical marijuana. An amendment to the bill would also authorize patients diagnosed with a “debilitating condition” including cancer, glaucoma, HIV, Chron’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, PTSD, epilepsy and others to access medicinal cannabis.
Dispensing organizations would be permitted to operate for the purposed of providing medical marijuana to qualifying patients. Minors would also be permitted to use medical marijuana under the strict supervision of their parents with physician or neurologist approval.
The House passed HB1554 by a 112-44 vote.
“I think the timing is good. I think we have a culture that let’s try to open our eyes and let’s see what’s out there. Anybody that’s seen people suffer, there ought to be a way to maybe makes things a little bit better,” Rep. Neely said in a Missouri Net report last year.
Despite the federal prohibition on marijuana, measures such as HB1554 remain perfectly constitutional, and the feds can do little if anything to stop them in practice.
Under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970, the federal government maintains complete prohibition of marijuana. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional 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.
Legalization of medical marijuana in Missouri would remove one layer of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana, but federal prohibition will remain on the books.
FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By curtailing state prohibition, Missouri could sweep away some of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.
Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly annual 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 either. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.
A GROWING MOVEMENT
Missouri could join a growing number of states simply ignoring federal prohibition, and nullifying it in practice. Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska were the first states to legalize recreational cannabis, and California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts joined them after ballot initiatives in favor of legalization passed in November 2016. In January, Vermont became the first state to legalize marijuana through a legislative act.
With 29 states allowing cannabis for medical use, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition anymore.
“The lesson here is pretty straightforward. 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,” Tenth Amendment Center founder and executive director Michael Boldin said.
HB1554 will now move to the Senate for further consideration. At the time of this report, the bill had not been assigned to a Senate committee. Once it receives a committee assignment, it must pass by a majority vote before moving forward in the legislative process.