JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Dec. 21, 2016) – Two bills prefiled in the Missouri Senate for the 2017 session would legalize medical marijuana in the state. If signed into law, the legislation would take another step toward nullifying the unconstitutional federal prohibition on cannabis in practice and effect.
Sen. Jason Holsman (D-Kansas City) prefiled Senate Bill 56 (SB56) and Sen. Rob Schaaf (R-St. Joseph) prefiled Senate Bill 153 (SB153). Each bill would promulgate rules and regulations to set up a functioning medical marijuana program in the Show-Me State.
SB153 is a duplicate of medical marijuana legislation that failed during the 2016 legislative session. The bill would give access to medical marijuana to patients suffering from the following qualifying conditions:
(a) Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, severe migraines, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathies, Huntington’s disease; or
(b) Any of the following conditions that is clinically associated with, or a complication of, a condition under this subdivision or its treatment: cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe or chronic pain; severe nausea; seizures; severe or persistent muscle spasms
The bill text of SB56 is not yet available to the public but the language is expected to create specific rules and regulations that sanction the licensing and taxation of medical marijuana in the state. The bill summary provided by the state of Missouri claims SB56 will pertain to “licensing businesses and facilities and certifying patients and [allowing] the department to charge fees, limit the number of licenses issued, and the quantities of marijuana that may be possessed.”
Despite the federal prohibition on marijuana, measures such as SB56 and SB153 remain perfectly constitutional, and the feds can do little if anything to stop them in practice.
EFFECT ON FEDERAL PROHIBITION
If SB56 and SB153 are signed into law, it would partially remove one layer of law prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana in Missouri, but federal prohibition would remain in place.
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.
While these Missouri bills would not alter federal law, they would take a step toward nullifying in effect the federal ban. FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By easing the state laws, the Missouri legislature would remove some of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.
Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly-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. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.
A GROWING MOVEMENT
Missouri could to join a growing number that are simply ignoring federal prohibition, and nullifying it in practice. Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska have already legalized recreational cannabis with California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts set to join them after ballot initiatives in favor of legalization were passed in those states earlier this month.
With more than two-dozen states allowing cannabis for medical use as well, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition any more.
“The lesson here is pretty straight forward. 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.
SB56 and SB153 must be officially introduced next year before they can receive committee assignments. The bills need to be approved by their respective committees before they can proceed to the full Senate for consideration