JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Mar. 16, 2015) – Last week, a Missouri state House committee passed a bill that would legalize marijuana for specific medical purposes, and effectively nullify 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.
The federal government currently lists marijuana as a Schedule I narcotic and attempts to prohibit it for any purpose. Tenth Amendment Center national communications director Mike Maharrey says this clearly violates the Constitution.
“The Constitution delegates no power to the federal government to prohibit marijuana in the states. This power remains with the state governments and the people. Doubt me? Then ask yourself why it required a constitutional amendment to prohibit alcohol. There is no fundamental difference,” Maharrey said.
As more states take marijuana policy into their own hands, defying the federal prohibition, the federal government has become increasingly incapable of enforcing its unconstitutional prohibition. They simply lack the resources to stop the tidal wave. For those concerned about the health care and personal choices of people living in Missouri, this cannot come too soon.
Medical marijuana is an incredibly important issue pertaining to nullification and states’ rights. Because it is so overwhelmingly popular, medical marijuana can act as a metaphorical ‘gateway drug’ to the idea of state and local resistance to onerous federal laws. With this issue, it is possible to show the residents of your state that local control better serves the needs of the people than the top-down federal approach that has failed for so many decades.
Although it draws a legal distinction between recreational and medical marijuana, HB800 marks an enormous step in the right direction for both medical marijuana supporters and advocates of decentralized government in the state of Missouri. It signals that the public is ready to throw off the shackles of ‘federal supremacy’ and take lawmaking into their own hands.