ST. LOUIS, Mo. (Oct. 22, 2020) – Last weekend, the first medical marijuana dispensaries opened in Missouri despite federal prohibition.
Retail medical marijuana sales kicked off in the Show-Me State last Saturday with the opening of two dispensaries run by N’Bliss in the St. Louis area. Another dispensary opened Monday in the Kansas City area.
The dispensaries reportedly opened to long lines.
Missouri legalized medical marijuana through a ballot measure in 2018. Under the law, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services was tasked with establishing a licensing structure for the cultivation, testing and sale of medical cannabis. Patients can grow up to six marijuana plants; a licensed caretaker can cultivate up to 18. Doctors can recommend medical cannabis for any condition they see fit; there is no specific list of qualifying disorders.
Brenda Dougherty told ABC News marijuana helps her manage chronic pain.
“I don’t want to take any more pills,” she said. “I know this will help. To be quite honest, I have tried it and, yes, it does help.”
According to Marijuana Moment, the state has licensed 192 retailers to date. Over 65,000 Missourians have registered with the state’s medical access program.
EFFECT ON FEDERAL PROHIBITION
Under the federal 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 cannabis 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.
Despite federal prohibition, Missouri legalized medical marijuana. This removes one layer of law punishing the possession and use of marijuana in the state, even though federal prohibition remains in effect. This is significant because FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. When states stop enforcing marijuana laws, they sweep away most 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 joins a growing number of states increasingly 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. Michigan followed suit when voters legalized cannabis for general use in 2018. Vermont became the first state to legalize marijuana through a legislative act in 2018. Illinois followed suit in 2019.
With 34 states including Missouri 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.